Lockdown isn’t just about following the latest TikTok trends and staying home. With numbers of COVID cases reaching all-time highs, fears of catching the virus remain at large. However, whilst the public remains vulnerable to infection, the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups like the low-income communities are starting to come to light.
UNICEF conducted a study on low-income families in urban areas and here what they found:
How have they coped?
The initial financial assistance provided by the government have now dried up for many families. The report states that 68% of the households have no savings. It is far worse for women-led households and heads of households with disabilities. These households are extremely vulnerable to further economic shocks and many of them have continued to pawn their valuables in desperate measures and even defaulted in rental payments.
How are they surviving?
Every dollar counts for families on the edge. Many of them have taken to less than ideal measures to ensure that their families pull through this period.
- 3% have taken informal loans
- 10% still need to borrow money from friends and families
- 13% are deferring rent and other payments
- 8% are heading to pawn shops for quick cash or selling their assets
- 24% had to reduce their food intake or expenditure 
But these are just short term solutions, there is no telling how much longer anyone family can last if the economic situation does not improve nationally.
Forecast Of The Future
There isn’t a resounding hope from these families as they are literally living day to day simply surviving. When asked how they think their financial situation may be in the next 6 months, the sentiments are startling:
- 14% believed that their situation would improve.
- 76% were leaning more towards the pessimistic side, predicting their situation would only get worse, or that it would remain exactly the same.
- 1 in 2 head of households with disabilities expects their financial situation to get worse over the next 6 months. 
There are numerous NGOs and movements that have sprung up in light of the long lasting negative impacts of the pandemic. Yet, there are many who remain hidden from the public eye. As you read this, there is an emergence of the ‘new poor’ amongst us.
Let us all chip in where possible. Support small local business. Check up on friends, families and neighbours. Volunteer at a food bank (here’s an example) or even start your own initiative. We can all help to meet a need out there.
Check out our changemakers map to locate NGOs around your area who are making a difference in the lives of the poor.
Contact us to improve on this list!
Explore Our Sources
- UNICEF, UNFPA, & DM Analytics. (October 2020). Families on the Edge (Issue 2): Status of the households post-MCO. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/reports/families-edge-issue-2. Link.