One million or one hundred million casualties? The impact of the covid-19 crisis on the least developed and developing countries

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In a recent working paper available for download here we have analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Least Developed and Developing Countries. We find that the overall impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the least developed and developing countries is massive, with a potentially very high number of casualties: we float an entirely arbitrary figure of 100 million. To arrive at this number, we collect and collate the different ways in which COVID-19 may hit low- and middle-income countries from a public health perspective as well as economically, and show that the crisis may not only threaten many people’s lives but may even reverse the positive development trend of the last 20 years, putting the realization of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in some doubt.

To address the threat of 100 million casualties we propose five policy measures to mitigate the most severe impacts of the crisis on LDCs/developing countries:

(1) financial support provided by developing countries to their economies must consider LDCs/developing countries’ needs,

(2) global economic, travel and digital connections must be reinstalled as soon as possible,

(3) medical achievements must be shared with LDCs/developing countries,

(4) make use of innovation (in technology, relationships, human well-being services, etc.) to devise new solutions to fight hunger and to keep on course towards the realization of the SDGs in LDCs/developing countries, and

(5) developed countries (or their central banks, respectively), should work on a temporary currency stability mechanism that functions as a buffer against the crisis-related currency devaluation of LDCs/developing countries.

The paper is structured as follows: Part I provides the context. Part II argues that the number of Coronavirus cases and casualties in the least developed and developing countries is almost certainly underestimated and understated; Part III lays out the indirect severe impacts of the crisis, namely the inevitable return of hunger and famine to many parts of the world; Part IV suggests that the abandonment of the UN’s SDGs is one likely effect of the crisis in the absence of coordinated efforts; and Part V presents five policy principles designed to limit the looming human tragedy. Part VI concludes.

Download the working paper

(For readers unfamiliar with the Social Science Research Network: you can just scroll down to the bottom page and click on the right side on the bottom “download without registration,” resulting in unregistered downloads. At the same time, registration with SSRN is free of charges).

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