A lot of people employed in the trading sector and in private schools and colleges have been on half pay or no pay since April while domestic workers and many casual labourers have lost their normal livelihoods, a Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) analysis has shown.
This is according to a recent analysis titled Malawi Key Message Update: Harvest improves rural food security, while Covid-19 reduces income for urban poor, May 2020.
As a consequence, Fewsnet says many of the affected households who had little or absolutely no savings, would have their living conditions deteriorate.
Reads the analysis in part: “Government and partners are currently planning an assistance programme for these urban and peri-urban poor, but the programme is still insufficiently funded.
“Poor and very poor households in urban and peri-urban area– where most of the population depends on informal employment and small businesses – are facing reduced access to income as a result of the economic slowdown resulting from Covid-19 impacts, with stressed outcomes expected to persist through at least September.”
Last month, Malawi Government set aside K38.9 billion for social cash transfers to run for six months to relieve vulnerable people in urban areas from effects of measures to contain further spread of Covid-19.
The programme is targeting 35 percent of the urban population and its direct beneficiaries include vendors, minibus touts, kabaza operators, street children and beggars, petty traders and casual labourers living in densely-populated peri-urban hotspot areas.
President Peter Mutharika announced earlier that the programme is targeting 172 000 households in urban areas with 80 178 in Lilongwe, 66 744 in Blantyre, 17 258 in Mzuzu and 8 703 in Zomba.
Minister of Population and Social Welfare Clara Makungwa told journalists in Lilongwe last month that there is a possibility of loss of employment, income and limitation of informal labour opportunities for individuals with high dependence on daily wage, especially in urban areas; hence, the relief package effective May.
“The objective is to cushion the urban population and mitigate the impact of the outbreak on vulnerable households who rely on petty trading as a source of income for their livelihoods,” she said.