Socioeconomic Impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic in Belize

COVID SEIA Report.pdf

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Socioeconomic Impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic in Belize

January 4, 2021

A rise in the number of daily confirmed cases of the
new coronavirus internationally led the World Health
Organization (WHO) to declare it spread a global pandemic
in the first quarter of 2020 and the subsequent international
public health and socio-economic crisis in every country.
In the Latin America and Caribbean Region, the fragile
economies, limited social protection mechanisms and weak
health sector capacities to protect their most vulnerable
citizens have all been exacerbated during this pandemic.
The responses to close the borders to travel as well as to
institute containment measures have also impacted the
economies across the region and the livelihoods of many
Caribbean People. Belize adopted similar measures of
containment following its first confirmed case on March 25th
and first COVID-related death on 6th April. These measures
were relatively successful through to the end of July with 48
confirmed infections and 2 deaths. However, this scenario
changed in August with dramatic increases such that by
10th November there were over 4,200 confirmed infections
and 71 related deaths and thereafter more than 10,000 cases
by 19th December with 216 deaths.

At a global level, UNDP was identified as the UN technical
lead for COVID-19 socioeconomic assessment and recovery
planning, working in collaboration with other UN agencies
and the respective Resident Coordinator Offices. In Belize,
UNDP decided to conduct an initial socio-economic
impact assessment with a focus on how the pandemic has
affected the vulnerable population and identify key policy

The report provides a contextual analysis of the economy
and livelihoods in the country prior to the impact of the
pandemic. An analysis on the impact of COVID-19 and the
government’s response including the use of a household
survey. Extensive data gathering and outreach was affected
by the increased number of COVID cases in the country.
The report noted the early success of the State of Emergency
conditions as the national authorities sought a balance
between preserving public health and relieving the strain
on its already weak healthcare system, while maintaining
the economic health of the country. Furthermore the
report identified specific interventions aimed at mitigating
the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,
including new programs such as the Unemployment Relief
, Belize COVID-19 Cash Transfer (BCCAT), food assistance ,
as well as e an expansion of its long-running initiatives; a
food pantry and the Building Opportunities for Our Social
Transformation (BOOST) Program. The household survey
was able to assess the reach of these programs although it
remained a little early to confirm the full impact.

A clear recommendation emerging from the SEIA results
is to advance a multidimensional poverty index (MPI) and
a coordination mechanism to improve decision making
and governance. The report also observes the need for a
more robust information technology landscape to inform
e-governance, e-learning, e-business and e-infrastructure.
Action on areas such as an updated MSME Policy and
strategy; informal activities within border communities;
focusing on the health sector including access to universal
health care; as well as approaches to financing the necessary
investments are also key to building the resilience of the
country in response to this pandemic and future external

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