By: Justicia Shipena
Some job retrenchments went unrecorded during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report by Simonis Storms on Covid-19 update on stock taking and looking ahead has revealed on Monday after Namibia marked its second year since the first lockdown.
According to the report, Namibia retrenched about 15 000 while 0.2% died between March 2020 to date.
“Most retrenchments occurred in the accommodation, wholesale, retail, and mining sectors. This means that for every one Covid death, there were almost four individuals who lost their jobs,” it reads.
The report also questioned whether Namibia saved lives by instituting a national lockdown.
“It is difficult to estimate the number of deaths in the counterfactual. The lockdown did not necessarily save lives when looking at case study examples. We maintain the view that you cannot attempt to save lives from a virus at the expense of sacrificing livelihoods,” it said.
It stated that the national lockdowns have led to secondary mental health effects resulting from keeping individuals isolated in confined spaces.
“While mental health statistics are very hard to come by in Namibia, we know that these factors have increased in Namibia following the lockdown, based on discussions with both private and public psychiatric healthcare workers.”
Moreover, the report states the long-term after-effects of Covid-19 also pose long-run economic and social costs.
“A rise in these social issues and mental health disorders can have long-term impacts on labour productivity, young people’s educational outcomes, and misallocations in household budgets.”
Additionally, it explains that these risks do not receive sufficient attention in the policy environment. Adding that, it could lead to socio-economic costs incurred by the economy in future.
Thus, it states that Namibia needs to rethink its approach to future viral pandemics.
“We cannot respond to future health risks stemming from viral outbreaks with a national lockdown.”
Simoni Storms says about 70 per cent of respondents in the Economic Outlook 2022 Report noted that viral pandemics would become part of lives every 10 to 15 years.
However, Afro-barometer surveys indicate that 64 per cent of Namibians believe the government is unprepared to deal with future health emergencies.
“Lessons we can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic is that we have to cultivate a discipline of being forward-looking and bolster ourselves during good economic times to be better prepared for future crises,” it said.
Touching on the future, it says that the Covid-19 pandemic is not something to forget about and move forward with.
“We have to learn from this experience and put plans or policies to deal with future pandemics effectively. We as a democratic nation need to keep our leaders accountable to ensure that social and economic interests are considered in dealing with future pandemics.”
Furthermore, it said that Namibia needs to improve the ease of obtaining statistics on various aspects of the economy and socio-economic issues.
“Which will allow researchers, policy advisers and economists to provide data-driven recommendations and solutions to various problems. This will allow for tailored data-driven solutions to Namibia.”