The Coronavirus Pandemic in Peru
In light of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Peruvian government declared a nationwide quarantine on 16th March. This is set to last until at least 12th April. although it is likely that it will be extended. The only acceptable reasons to leave your house are to buy groceries and medicine, to seek medical attention, and to attend to essential legal issues. The police and army are on the streets of Arequipa to ensure that the new emergency measures are adhered to. A curfew is in place from 6pm to 5am, and a nationwide curfew will be in place on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th April. Many of you will also be facing similar situations in your own countries and we send you all of love and solidarity across the globe during these unsettling times.
While these measures definitely help to curb the number of infections and protect the domestic health system, they also prevent informal workers (9.5 million people in Peru) from going out to earn a living. Informal workers (such as street vendors, cleaners, domestic workers and construction workers) earn their wages on a day to day basis, and have little or no job security. Informal workers do not have as many rights and protections as formal, salaried workers, and as a result will be some of the hardest hit by the new rules.
Most of the families in our community find themselves in such a struggle, given that most of the HOOP parents are themselves informal workers with precarious incomes who depend on going to work every day. Many such families live hand-to-mouth. The loss of earnings from even a few days can critically endanger the wellbeing of our beneficiaries. Another problem that the families could face is a shortage of work after the quarantine has ended. Many of the mothers in our families are the head of single-parent families and this will especially affect them. Feeding their families depends on their sole incomes, and in some cases the support of their neighbours.
Due to their precarious economic situations, many parents undertake the risk of working illegally in order to bring food to the table. In the pandemic, they are also risking their health to feed their families. Going to work out of fear of starvation increases the chance of infection. Inadequate nutrition and stress also endanger people’s health, hindering the body’s ability to fight off infection.
What’s more, due to scarcity, many families also cannot afford to buy the basic cleaning equipment and hygiene essential to keep themselves and their households clean to prevent infection. Although washing your hands is vital during the pandemic, many of our families cannot afford to buy soap.
What is the Peruvian government doing to help?
The Peruvian government have adopted several measures to help such communities. For example, a grant of 380 soles for each vulnerable family has been promised and food baskets will be distributed with the help of the local government. However, in our communities, after more than three weeks of quarantine, such action has yet to be taken. It’s probable that help will continue to be delayed, and in some cases may never arrive, even though it is urgently needed. Time is running out for our families.
Read about how HOOP hopes to help our families in their time of need here.