Mark Lowcock, U.N. humanitarian chief said $90 billion could provide income support, including food and health, to over 700 million poor families in the world – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video briefing, Lowcock said most experts agree that the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet reached the poorest part of the world, but may peak in the next three months.
According to Lowcock, 700 million people (10 percent of the world’s population) are the most vulnerable and concentrated in about 30-40 countries that have already received humanitarian assistance.
“If you wanted to protect them against that drop in income, then probably for about $60 billion you could do that,” said Lowcock.
Lowcock stated that two -thirds or $60 billion of the $90 billion could possibly come from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He said that the remaining one-third could be financed by government development assistance.
“They would need to change the terms on which they provide assistance to some people. So, for example, they would need to reduce interest rates and provide some debt relief. But they have the firepower if they were given a bit more subsidy to probably meet about two-thirds of the costs,” he added.
In his video, Lowcock admitted that the $90 billion is a lot of money but he also emphasizes that the budget is an affordable sum of money. Lowcock said that the U.N. is not going to demand the $90 billion. Instead, Lowcock said, “what I am suggesting is a lot of the suffering and loss of life can be contained within sums of money which are imaginable.”
Lowcock also said that there are many things that the public do not know about the COVID-19 – how it spreads in countries that are warmer and more humid, how it interacts with other illnesses like malaria and HIV/AIDS, how it acts in situations where there is a lot of malnutrition and hunger, its impact in low-income countries where people on average are younger, and whether people who recover have some protection against future infection.
Lowcock, as the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, shows hope scientists will find answers to all his questions.
“The biggest impacts, we expect … will arise from the economic consequences of the pandemic,” he said.