|Overview : |
The United Nations (UN) in South Africa opportunely completed its United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), 2020-25, from which the United Nation Development Programme’s (UNDP) Country Programme Country (CPD) 2020 -25, was determined. The documents articulate the UN/UNDP’s programme of support to the Government in combatting the development challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality; in close consultation with the Government of South Africa and other partners. The UNDP CPD 2020-25 is therefore strongly aligned to the Government’s Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2019-2024 and the country’s priorities both at the national and local levels.
According to the UNDP-led UN research on the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 in South Africa, poverty and vulnerability, unemployment and inequalities in South Africa increases due to shocks from the health pandemic. An already unequal national situation has been made much worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the study indicates that it may take at least 5 years for the economy to return to pre-2019 levels of growth, employment and inequality unless a combination of innovative policy and actions are taken. Similarly, the UNDP-led UN Emergency Needs Assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable indicated that the Eastern Cape is one of the most affected by the burdens of COVID-19. Poverty has significantly decreased in the Eastern Cape falling from 30.2% in 2001 to 12.7% in 2016 , yet the Eastern Cape is the poorest of all of the country’s nine provinces.
The Eastern Cape province ranks the lowest of South Africa’s nine provinces on social, economic and development indexes. The province has low labour force participation, high youth and adult unemployment and high net-out migration. Government services, wages and expenditure are the main contributors to economic growth and employment; however the province does have pockets of internationally competitive export industries, notably in the automotive manufacturing industry and agriculture. The Eastern Cape recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 20 April 2020. By the end of August 2020, the province was ranked number four out of the nine provinces of South Africa, with 85 899 positive cases identified, 81 373 recoveries, and 2 869 deaths (National Health Department, 2020). The pandemic caused severe pressure on the health and social welfare systems countrywide, and particularly in the Eastern Cape where the primary health care system was already under strain. The dual dilemma of the pandemic, an already weak economy lockdown measures taken by the South African government to mitigate the effect of the pandemic has had a severe impairment on the circular flow of income, goods, and services, worsening both aggregate demand and aggregate supply.