Impact of the pandemic: Lima among the three regions with the highest increase in poverty in 2020

Last week, the INEI it showed very hard figures regarding the increase in poverty. Several economists –among them, Pablo Lavado– had predicted this fall, which takes us back to 2009. In other words, all efforts to lift households out of poverty during these 10 years have gone to zero.

It is clear that rural poverty has the highest levels of poverty and the majority of social policies have been concentrated towards it, but, this time, the pandemic has hit the urban area significantly, returning us to levels of urban poverty of 13 years ago. It is debated whether we have to wait 13 more years to get back to how we were. This is not entirely true, because if the effect of the closing of the markets has hit the urban sector because it is precisely the one most connected to them, these, when they open up, will quickly recover. It is like when a sick person loses weight quickly, but then, when they heal, they quickly regain the lost kilos. The question we must ask ourselves is, do we want to gain fat or muscle? It is logical that we should focus on having a healthy recovery that prevents us from getting sick again.

It is not then about recovering figures or data. For the exit from poverty to be successful we need a system that cancels the risk of returning to it in any eventuality. It is not possible that today we see in the headlines that there are households that are raffling their cars to pay for the illness of a relative. The output of the povertyThus, it has emerged on weak foundations that have made our middle class extremely vulnerable and helpless. This is precisely what the social protection systems that we do not have today seek to avoid. But social policies are not enough if we do not include the informality factor and do not develop comprehensive measures to mitigate this situation; otherwise, we will continue to have invisible and alien citizens.

On the other hand, we must recognize that we will not all come out of the crisis in the same way. For some the recovery will be faster while for others it will be slower. We must recognize and identify the vulnerability of those people who will find it difficult to get out of the crisis faster or who will not be able to do so without help from the State. Just as today we have specialist therapists in the recovery of the aftermath of COVID-19 in patients, we need specialized policy therapists to ensure this effective exit from poverty. Let’s not hope that the tightness of the markets will solve everything. The State must assume its role with great determination and precision so that no one is left behind.

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