This article was first published on Climate Analytics website on 19 May 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic adds yet another shock to the multiple challenges that more than a billion people living in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) already face in day-to-day life. It is much more than a health crisis. It has the potential to create devastating health, social, economic and environmental crises that will leave a deep, long-lasting mark. However, it is an opportunity to adopt and implement sustainable solutions during the recovery process, also for LDCs, without losing sight of the climate crisis.
Solar panels on a farm in Rwanda. ©Water for Food, CC BY-NC 2.0
More in the series of blogs on coronavirus pandemic impacts on climate-vulnerable countries:
Facing Covid and climate Pacific island capacity stretched by Paddy Pringle
Coronavirus underscores small islands climate vulnerability by Adelle Thomas
A worsening situation
The coronavirus crisis has affected work, business travel and lifestyles around the world and has exacted an unprecedented human toll as underprepared health systems struggle to cope and workers in lockdown lose their livelihoods. However, the insufficient infrastructure and fragile health systems make the situation in LDCs even more difficult.
According to the World Health Organization, maternal mortality rates in LDCs remain around double that of the global average. An estimated 47% of deaths in LDCs overall are caused by communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions, compared to 22% globally. In terms of emergency preparedness, the WHO confirms that 44 LDCs experienced a health emergency or outbreak between January 2015 and October 2016. These were due to natural disasters in 26 countries, conflict or humanitarian crises in 16 countries and disease outbreaks or epidemics in 40 countries.
Health systems in LDCs are currently unable to cope with the rapid increase in new cases of COVID, and these countries lack the resources to cope with the socio-economic consequences of lockdown, the only practical solution until a vaccine is available.<
As the coronavirus pandemic has hit major sources of revenue, many LDCs – already economically weak – are struggling to balance their books and to allot resources to fight the health crisis on top of other challenges.
COVID-19 adds on to climate change impacts
For many LDCs, COVID-19 and climate change have conspired to make their situation even more difficult. Even during the pandemic, climate change continues to threaten the health and safety of people in the LDCs.