Press Release

UNDP: COVID-19 Rapid Emergency Needs Assessment for the most vulnerable groups

19 November 2020

  • This assessment, jointly conducted by UNDP in South Africa and the Government of South Africa, focused on impact COVID-19 on the most vulnerable groups and looks at the income loss on formal and informal workers. 

New COVID-19 research from United Nations Development Programme South Africa, the South African government, and the United Nations system across seventeen different agencies, reveals COVID-19’s human and sectoral impacts – with an estimated total cost of recovery at R336 billion, or $20.3 billion. This piece of work was developed to support the efforts of the Department of Social Development in scanning the environment in order to formulate adequate responses. 

  • Food insecurity is dire for 0.9 million households.  Nutrition for 9 million children is vulnerable without school feeding – risking acute malnutrition or wasting.  2.5 million informal workers need cash transfers to ensure food security.
  • Poverty is a risk for estimated 740,616 informal workers who could fall below the upper poverty line.  Financial assistance is needed for 652,120 thousand small, medium and micro enterprises (which employ about 3 million people) in the formal sector, and 342,090 thousand SMMEs, (which support about 0.9 million employees) in the informal sector.
  • Other vulnerable groups needing assistance include 266,694 refugees and asylum seekers; 200,000 homeless people; and 162,875 prisoners.

Impacts by sector

  • Education: needs support for online learning provision, health and sanitation, PPE for teachers, water, and curriculum review to enable as much of the year to be salvaged as possible.

  • Employment: income loss to the workforce was estimated at R 89 to R 96 billion during the 65 days of lockdown levels 5 and 4.

  • Food prices have increased, possibly due hoarding, market conditions, or supply shortages

  • Health there has been a significant negative impact on access to non-COVID healthcare services

  • Women: streamline access to food distribution, strengthen gender based violence support (hotlines, shelters, support groups), drive communication campaigns, increase police training, and legislation

  • Children at risk of 1) malnutrition, 2) diseases of deprivation, 3) interrupted access to vaccination and routine medical services, 4) abuse from caregivers , 5)loss of grandparental care

  • Older persons interventions include:1) effective access to testing and medical facilities, 2) consideration of mobility and safety issues in accessing services, 3) implement anti-infection measures in residential institutions.


1)  Prevent hunger; 2) Protect people; 3) Ensure access to basic services; 4) Leave no-one behind; 5) Revive economy; 6) Provide capital credit; 7) Empower governance services; 8) Communicate

View full report here:…

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