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Implications of Covid-19 on indigenous populations: Poverty and inequality

Its been a long haul since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in 2019 in Wuhan, China. Humanity has been plunged through vast & deep pools of ups and downs. Fear has dominated the landscape of every aspect of our lives, and now after 2 years of masks, closures and mandates a certain sector of society may be starting to feel as if life might be gaining some security. For whatever its worth technology and science has become humanity's “night in shining armour” , and as tempting as it may be to get into the topic of what could be behind the tech and the mandates this article is not about such slippery sloped topics as these...

Back to the topic of inequality, which is a menacing and sneaky outcome of all that's come of this living horror flick we call Covid-19.

For so many of us we among the richer nations and sectors of society have been able to take advantage of cushioned governmental responses such as unemployment aid, paid leave, cuts on our taxes, benefits for our businesses. A network of everything we could ever possibly want and need has been made available to us literally at our fingertips and offered right to our doorsteps. Mortgage rates are at an all time low and the housing market is on fire. Vaccines are on the roll and vaccine passport mandates dominate the political & social fabric of most developed countries, promising safety and security from the sufferings of the pandemic. People are once again out and about, concerts and sports games are full and restaurants and bars can enjoy unmasked patronage at the cost of hiring extra employees to act as security guards checking for passports at every entrance.

For those of us who know this reality, even slightly or more so, we are the advantaged of society, but what is happening outside our “advantaged” bubble, whats happening and or going to happen to the “disadvantaged” or less advantaged of society?

The COVID-19 crisis is now widely seen as the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. In January, the IMF expected global income to grow 3 percent; it is now forecast to fall 3 percent, much worse than during the Great Recession of 2008-09. Behind this dire statistic is an even grimmer possibility: if past pandemics are any guide, the toll on poorer and vulnerable segments of society will be several times worse. Indeed, a recent poll of top economists found that the vast majority felt the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen inequality, in part through its disproportionate impact on low-skilled workers.

Our evidence supports concerns about the adverse distributional impacts of pandemics. We find that major epidemics in this century have raised income inequality and hurt employment prospects of those with only a basic education while scarcely affecting employment of people with advanced degrees.

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The above quote from the International Monetary Fund shows that within the last century pandemics have had a deeply scarring & widening effect on the inequality between the higher educated, more advantaged populations of society and lesser to non educated populations of society. The “cushioning” of higher learned and more fortunate parts of society leaves us for the most part unaffected in terms of employment, income and general social security relatively speaking. Whereas the poorer and under or non educated and “non-skilled”are plunged deep and fast into an ever more & aggravated state of poverty...the gap widens sharply!

Upon the indigenous populations whom of most and in most places are part of societies most “marginalised” the pandemic has and will continue to taken its toll.

Consider these statistics within the context of all that has and will happen during and after this pandemic.

  • At least 40 percent of the world’s 7,000 languages are at some level of endangerment. It’s estimated that one Indigenous language dies every two weeks.

  • More than 86 percent of Indigenous peoples work in the informal economy and are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty. They are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, and often lack adequate social protection and economic resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected their lives, causing them to suffer even more from poverty, illness, and discrimination.

  • The life expectancy of Indigenous peoples is as much as 20 years lower than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts. Often lacking adequate healthcare and information, they are more likely to get diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV.

  • Forty seven percent of all Indigenous peoples in employment have no formal education. This number is even wider for women.

So many indigenous live day to day and hand to mouth. So many just scraping by and who rely on the open market places of their local societies. Many are artisans and vendors of simple hand made and or hand grown goods, and now many suffer with no access to these markets as covid has pushed many of them out or shut down these markets entirely. What was once poverty is becoming extreme poverty for many. Tourism is dead and street traffic is nil, eliminating venues that artisans have relied on for years. Many rural communities where artisans live have shut down entirely, allowing no one in or out.

It’s horrible. All who depend on direct sales are suffering beyond belief.”Marta Turok, Franz Mayer Museum, Mexico City

sales have been reduced to zero. We are artisans and we live day-by-day. Our people will not die of the virus, they will die of hunger.”Constantino Martínez Guzmán, Movimiento Indígenas de Artesanos Originarios de México

Coming to Know the above information and seeing the gap widening between the rich poor sectors of our societies, the bubble around our security begins to fade, things seem less...bubbly. What can we do to help this situation? We who continue to live with a certain amount of security, food on the table and in the fridge, freezer and pantry, expected income & employment. Is there a way to share this security with those who don't have it? Is their security the same as ours?

For any indigenous artisan, craft maker or farmer would security not mean a stable marketplace, that being equal to a consistent employment and relied upon sustainable stream of income? Could we who “have” help create this for those who have not?

Do the research and see that handouts are not the answer, are not sustainable and lead to greater poverty and debt and corruption in the end. In this case we also don't need to “teach a man to fish”, for they already posses great skill and knowledge, but rather the pond needs to be restocked or rather a new ocean be offered.

We have the technology, so many of us spend great amounts of time on social media platforms and purchase and sell our goods online. This is what we can give to hem who have lost their security.

Help us at The G.A.I.A Project crate this platform & network which has the potential to offer a simple security to a simple people. Help us create cooperatives of artists who have access to a vast global market network of commerce and philanthropic support.

If any of this speaks to you please go to our donation page and make a donation towards our cause, any amount counts, any amount is valued because it is more that what many have. If many of us give the little or more we have to give it will amount to a lot especially when it goes towards something sustainable for an others security in the future.

And please don’t hesitate to reach out for any reason!

Thank you!

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