Solidarity in Response to the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow around the world to all spheres of life that affect the well-being of society, including the economic and social development. For example, according to a report by the Caritas-Italy Foundation on October 16, 2021, the number of people living outside poverty in Italy has increased by 1 million since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the United Nations, more than 114 million jobs were lost during the pandemic, and an additional 120 million people found themselves below the poverty line. In total, according to the UN, almost 16 trillion dollars have been allocated as a means of stimulating the economy. However, the UN also emphasizes that the pandemic has increased inequality in the world, and worsened the situation of people from vulnerable groups around the world.

Unfortunately, Ukraine has also been significantly affected by the pandemic. In particular, in the most "panic times" of spring 2020 (as of 04/16/2020), according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine, the unemployment rate in Ukraine reached 13.7% - 15.4%, which was the highest level in 15 years. Of course, with the reduction of quarantine restrictions, the situation began to improve, but such "turbulence" always has a negative impact on the economy and welfare of the population. The biggest risks that may cause deterioration of the socio - economic situation of Ukrainian citizens in the medium and long term include:

  • decline in the solvency of the population;
    • lack (deficit) of the state budget;
  • growth of the deficit of the Pension Fund of Ukraine;
  • minimization of expenditures to finance the needs of vulnerable groups and social programs;
  • increasing the gap between segments of the population.

Among the short-term consequences that we could already spectate, shall be highlighted:

  • reducing the pace of development of small and medium enterprises;
  • loss of jobs by part of the population;
  • reduction of income and purchasing power of the population;
  • closure of small and medium enterprises.

It should be mentioned that socially vulnerable target groups and representatives of almost all spheres of society, even those who continued to work during quarantine measures and lockdowns, were directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic. In the globalized 21st century, no one can ignore the effects of a pandemic. A simple example of this would be the fact that grocery stores, which could operate even during the harshest quarantine measures, experienced a significant reduction in sales due to reduced human flow and the purchasing power of the population.

According to Acting Director of the Research Institute of Social Policy of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Leonid Ilchuk, the problems caused by the pandemic must be addressed by developing certain programs, concepts and plans. It is urgent to make changes and adjust the programs of socio-economic development of the regions through the diagnosis of problems that have arisen and the redistribution of expenditures for the preservation of social capital.

Given the seriousness of the consequences and the diversity of the affected groups, an important step in overcoming the short-term consequences and minimizing the medium- and long-term consequences is to create a comprehensive strategy that would be a detailed action plan to preserve and improve the well-being of all social groups.

Representatives of business, scientists, civil servants and other relevant citizens should be involved in the development and implementation of this strategy. It is also important to take into account the positions of civil society representatives, who are also represent the most affected social groups. "Assessing the impact of the pandemic, the Bureau of Social and Policy Development has decided to use its expertise and organizational expertise and consolidate the efforts of government, business and civil society representing various social groups to ensure an integrated approach to pandemic harm reduction," he said. Rostislav Dzundza, Chairman of the Board of the Bureau of Social and Political Development, which is launching the project "Solidarity in Response to the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic"which is supported by the European Commission's "Moving Forward Together" program implemented by the Black Sea Trust Fund. The Odesa region, the largest district in Ukraine, was chosen as the site of the pilot project, as the region's program documents do not include plans to overcome the consequences of the pandemic, but in the future we plan to scale up such an experience. We set ourselves the following tasks:

  1. Conducting social diagnostics (mass survey of the population, a series of expert surveys). The tasks of diagnosis should be:
    • study of the readiness of the population and organizations to support anti-pandemic measures;
    • analysis of social risks of anti-pandemic measures;
    • assessment of the negative socio-economic consequences of the pandemic among the population and small and medium-sized businesses;
    • assessment of the effectiveness of anti-epidemic measures implemented by local governments;
    • analysis of the resources of public initiatives of the local community in terms of their inclusion in measures to overcome the effects of the pandemic;
    • readiness for cooperation of local initiatives and local self-government bodies.
  2. Coverage of the results of social diagnostics, discussion and drafting of solutions to identified problems.
  3. Development of a strategy for overcoming the consequences of the pandemic for its submission to the meeting of the Odessa district council.
  4. Preparation of documents for the meeting of profile commissions on the preparation and implementation of a strategy to counter the effects of the pandemic.
  5. Information support of the project activity (publications in regional and all-Ukrainian mass media and press conferences)

We believe that by implementing all the tasks we will create a comprehensive vision of ways to overcome the pandemic, which will help minimize the negative consequences for everyone.

Науково-достідний інститут Unicef Black sea trust for regional cooperation Civil Society Forum КМДА international renaissance foundation Карітас України