The COVID-19 outbreak imposed shocks so serious that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened – worsening the predicaments of marginalized and vulnerable people. Unless the voices of the voiceless are raised and the plights of the vulnerable are effectively addressed, poverty, inequality and exclusions will continue to widen. This report, which adopts a rapid assessment methodology, presents a framework to lift the bottom quintile of South Africa’s population from falling deeper into poverty, squalor, and exclusion.
To achieve this, the report provides a rapid assessment of the needs created by COVID-19, not only directly, but indirectly through the impact of lockdowns and other measures taken to combat the spread of the disease. Emphasis was laid on two aspects of the assessment. First, vulnerable groups were at the forefront in all the work that went into the report, and their cross-cutting needs are highlighted. Second, the measures proposed to meet these needs were costed, supporting the practical implementation of the report’s recommendations. This is therefore not a theoretical document, but a practical one – intended to connect evidence and expertise with actions on the ground to tame the extreme exclusions imposed by COVID-19. Despite the thoroughness and breadth of this report, it is does not cover all sectors of South Africa’s economy and society. A fully comprehensive assessment would entail a longer project – and this Rapid Emergency Needs Assessment lays the basis for such an exercise. The present assessment is intended for immediate use, with yet more comprehensive and detailed assessments being conducted to inform a longer-term picture.