CLACDS in the face of COVID-19

24 2020 March
Mauren esquivel

On March 18, 2020, COVID-19 cases were confirmed in El Salvador and Nicaragua, these were the last two countries in the Latin American region to register a case of the new virus that has transformed the world to which we are accustomed.

The response of countries to the threat posed by this virus has been dissimilar. Some countries have chosen to implement closure of all their non-essential activities in order to reduce contagion to a minimum, others have been more moderate, accepting the impossibility of stopping the virus, but trying to "manage" the rate of contagion, while some governments have not taken drastic measures.

Still, we cannot know the results of this pandemic at the time of writing this blog, however, we do know that it has very significant economic, social, environmental and institutional impacts.

On the economic issue, a decrease in the GDP growth rate is to be expected and even, in cases where the epidemic is of long duration, a fall in it. The closure of companies that depend on daily sales for the payment of their payroll and suppliers will mean the loss of formal jobs in the region but also the reduced economic activity will affect the livelihood of many people with informal businesses that depend on their day-to-day sales.

The loss of employment and family income will undoubtedly have repercussions on the percentages of poverty and a decrease in the quality of life of the inhabitants of the region. Although there has been a decrease in pollution levels since the health crisis began, climate change will not stop because the crisis (and the consequent reduction in pollution) is temporary. The credibility of democratic institutions is at stake and the management of this health crisis may result in regaining confidence in them or rather in a marked deterioration.

The most painful thing is that we are undoubtedly going to suffer human losses and possibly a deterioration in our standard of living. The outlook may look dark, however, as stated before it is temporary. We do not know what the Latin America of the future will be like, but it depends largely on the individual and collective decisions that we make at this time.

From the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development we are committed to contributing by generating information and analysis so that decision-making allows us to cross this crisis with the least possible damage. For this, we are working on the development of content and free access sessions, so that companies can manage both the crisis and the subsequent recovery while being more competitive. With this, we hope to contribute our “grain of sand” to maintain employment and reduce the social impact that this pandemic may have.

At the macro level, we are committed to seeking short-term alternatives that allow governments to establish policies and measures consistent with the challenge we face. Finally, we commit ourselves after the end of this crisis, to build a stronger region and we hope that, in the medium term, we can launch a regional resilience initiative that allows us to be better prepared to respond to these types of challenges. Today is COVID-19 but tomorrow it could be a technological failure, a natural catastrophe or another phenomenon. It is imperative that we are better prepared for those challenges.