Post COVID-19 challenge: working in synergy to end poverty

We know that ending poverty, especially in a post-Covid-19 scenario, implies ceasing to believe that it is only a monetary issue, or to continue supporting an uncoordinated government, that lacks clear communication and does not measure results.



Rethinking a society without poverty post covid-19 is the challenge facing our societies and the fourth edition of the Cerrito Forum focuses on this topic, the Cerrito Forum is an event organized by the Fundación Paraguaya that seeks to find answers and tear down paradigms assumed regarding the approach to poverty, a problem that, sadly, has accelerated due to the pandemic.



In the first debate, “How COVID-19 challenges what we thought we knew about multidimensional poverty,” the panelists were: Yan Speranza, Executive Director of the Moises Bertoni Foundation; Arachu Castro, expert in Public Health from Tulane University, New Orleans, United States; Xavier Lazo, Former Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador; and Martín Burt, Executive Director of Fundación Paraguaya, moderated by journalist Luis Bareiro.



Although ending poverty is not the responsibility of a single sector of society, but should be a national task, Speranza pointed out that it is a limited approach to measure poverty only monetarily, and that this problem was made highly visible with the pandemic. “When you have income, but you have a problem of overcrowding in your house, it generates a serious problem of contagion of the disease or a health access problem,” he exemplified.



He talked about the Poverty Stoplight initiative –which seeks to empower families and is being implemented in more than 30 countries–, which somehow points to new paradigms in this new way of understanding poverty.



Castro, for his part, emphasized that it is necessary to invest in health and that this action must increase, because the deficiency of this sector in many of our countries is evident. “This pandemic aggravated health inequity and made visible the things that do not work in society. Primary care, in many countries, stopped, it is necessary to strengthen the capacity to reach the different communities”, he asserted.



He mentioned the importance of paying attention to universal basic income, which is not only necessary to leave poverty behind, but also to offer the entire population a more dignified life, “with not only an economic concept, but also to guarantee human dignity.” he added.



Lazo commented on the biosafety policies and the lessons that they leave in his country, through these difficult times, considering that they would help to face future problems and be able to face resilience.



He spoke of the difficulties of implementing long-term public policies and that, if that changes, many projects of great encouragement for these sectors could be sustained, such as livestock and agriculture. “You don’t just have to create productive alliances,” he added. He said that the new threats compromise the stability of the rural environment, and that forging new knowledge will allow a permanence in the future.



“Basically, things are like the thermometer that governments use to measure the patient’s temperature: a miscalibrated thermometer, which many times does not reflect the reality of each individual, the problem is structural. This situation is an opportunity to generate a great change and for the public policies of the system to improve,” said Burt.



Continuing with the example of the thermometer, he said that it is important that the family itself is allowed to self-diagnose with objective and subjective indicators to adapt solutions. “Both, the thermometer and who takes temperature, must be changed” he added.



Finally, Burt highlighted that in the Paraguayan government there is a great lack of coordination and that the elimination of poverty involves all of us, both the public sector and the private sector. “Think better about the public and private alliance, get more involved in the public sector and that it can incorporate solution logics and see ways of transformation.”