The aftershocks of COVID-19

By Constance Ndeleko

The uncertainty of when and how schools will re-open is still a baffle to many of us. Governments are working hard enough to ensure that they priorities the well-being of children.

As the pandemic poses a grave threat to the world’s children; mortality rate for healthy children infected by the virus has been lower than for adults and those with pre-existing conditions.

About 30 million children are still at the risk of illness and death. Even though the rate of contacting the virus is low, its indirect effects and impacts poses present danger to the lives of children especially the most vulnerable ones.


World vision states that, up to 85 million more girls and boys worldwide may be exposed to physical, sexual and/or emotional violence over three months as a result of COVID-19 quarantine. And 7 months into the pandemic numerous cases have already been reported.

The inability of children to accessing resources and help responses poses a great challenge during these unprecedented times. This means children’s’ way of life has changed unexpectedly having an impact in their mental, physical, social and emotional well-being.

As many as 13 million extra child marriages predicted by UNFPA will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with at least four million more girls married in the next two years.

As many as 30 million children’s lives are in danger from secondary health impacts such as deadly diseases like malaria, a lack of immunization, or increased malnutrition, as health systems are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

Urgent responses need to be put in place and this calls for a communal responsibility where we should enlighten children how they have to cope with the presence of the virus and post covid-19; how will they keep up with the new normal.

Without immediate action to protect people’s livelihoods now, the impact of this pandemic will reverse progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and irreparably damage the lives of current and future generations of children.(World Vision)

The United Nations (UN) projects that up to 66 million more children could fall into extreme poverty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the estimated 385 million children who were already living in extreme poverty in 2019.

Global health journal, The Lancet, also predicts that in the most severe scenario, reduced access to nutritious food could lead to wasting
increasing by 50 percent over six months, causing an additional 1.15 million child deaths.

Clearly, governments, UN agencies, donors, NGOs, and the private sector cannot afford to lose any more time to avert a global food security and poverty crisis. We must do so by ensuring no one is left behind in the push to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


World Vision’s assessments in 24 countries show that COVID-19 is already affecting parents and caregivers’ ability to meet the needs of their children. Without urgent action this will only get worse given that every second child, out of two billion children in the world, is living in poverty.

If we do not act fast, our findings show how the aftershocks of COVID-19 will threaten the lives and well-being of children in the following ways:

  • Children at risk of hunger and malnutrition
  • Children at risk of child labour and child marriages
  • Children and families living in fragile contexts will suffer the most
  • Children living in urban informal settlements at risk of hunger
    and abuse
  • Families pushed into poverty, as micro-small and medium
    enterprises lose income.

It is critical for the world to act now in order to prevent a looming global food and poverty crisis as part of the COVID-19 response before children pay the price.

Thus, it is important to direct our efforts towards ensuring:

  • Urgent scale up of child sensitive social protection measures (such as food, cash and voucher assistance) to help poor families meet immediate food, nutrition and income needs of children.
  • Prioritize life-saving and gender responsive interventions for the most
    vulnerable groups.
  • Ensure continuity of the supply chain for essential commodities
    and services to preserve most vulnerable populations’ lives and
  • Keep food and agriculture market systems functioning.
  • Protect jobs, wages and livelihoods of the poorest to guarantee
    households have income.
  • Invest in interventions promoting a green recovery.

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