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IS DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS POSSIBLE IN THE FACE OF COVID-19?


COMMENT W


elcome to the OPEC Fund Quarterly. This edition focuses on jobs and economic transformations in developing countries


and attempts to help understand the impact of COVID-19 on socio-economic progress. One overarching concern is that the pandemic may undo many years of development progress across the globe. Over the following pages, we speak with leading development experts to gauge whether it’s possible to prevent such regression, and if so, how. See our interview with Woochong Um, for example, the Asian Development Bank’s Director-General, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, on pages 34 to 37. Currently, the numbers do not look good. As this magazine went to press, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released the fifth edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, updating its estimates and analysis. The highlights (or lowlights, perhaps) are as follows:


• The vast majority, namely, 93 percent, of the world’s workers continue to reside in countries with some sort of workplace closure measure in place.


• Working-hour losses have worsened during the first half of 2020, reflecting the deteriorating situation in recent weeks, especially in developing countries


• Since the COVID-19 crisis is disproportion- ately affecting women workers in many ways, there is a risk of losing some of the gains made in recent decades and exacerbating gender inequalities in the labor market.


The ILO’s Chief of Development and


Investment Mito Tsukamoto explains how almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers have been significantly impacted by lockdown measures and / or work in some of the hardest hit sectors. Read our interview with Tsukamoto in full on pages 10 and 11. For an insight into how the pandemic feels


from the perspective of a developing country government, turn to page 14 to meet Winston Jordan, Guyana’s Minister of Finance. Even as his country faces falling revenue streams, he explains, the government must allocate “unplanned and massive sums of money” in response to COVID-19. The development community knows much about overcoming challenges, of course, and is never short on hope. Read about the OPEC Fund’s support for a major port infrastructure project that’s driving regional competitiveness and economic growth in Togo on page 16, and our job creation and poverty alleviation operations in the rural communities of Egypt on page 18. See also pages 20 to 22 to read about how development actors – including the OPEC Fund – are combining forces to provide bilateral and multilateral action in the face of an unprecedented global challenge.


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