Unleashing and Protecting Human Potential in South Asia

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread like wildfire over the world, degrading human capital, increasing income disparity, and reversing development gains.

South Asia has been very heavily struck. South Asia today houses over two-thirds of the world’s new extreme poor, those who have become poor or have been unable to escape poverty as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic has also highlighted the vulnerability of informal workers, who account for up to 80% of the workforce in several South Asian nations.

The delivery of routine health services has been significantly affected. In India, TB case notifications have decreased by 84 percent, while government health facilities in Afghanistan have done 23 percent fewer procedures. The pandemic has also highlighted the vulnerability of informal workers, who account for up to 80% of the workforce in several South Asian nations.

South Asia’s recovery from the epidemic might take years as families struggle to recoup and sustain momentum in order to assure their children’s education, deal with unemployment, and deal with food insecurity, growing the gap in inequality, which is a primary cause of inadequate human capital.

Countries should prioritize paving the groundwork for a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery in the future. Part of the recovery from COVID-19, particularly in South Asia, is preparing for future shocks. This necessitates a rethinking of how basic services like health, education, and social protection are delivered.

The World Bank is collaborating with countries in South Asia to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to chart a long-term path for human capital development beyond the pandemic.

The Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project assist the government in meeting urgent health requirements and providing emergency financial assistance to the poor and vulnerable, as well as strengthening the country’s health systems in preparation for a pandemic.

The Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project in Bhutan improved preparedness, supported contact tracing and early warning systems, and sponsored medical and testing supplies procurement.

Access to elementary and secondary education for all children will help to ensure that today’s youngsters grow up to be productive adults tomorrow. Keeping students, particularly girls, in school throughout the pandemic and returning to school when schools reopen is a top goal. Access to elementary and secondary education for all children will help to ensure that today’s youngsters grow up to be productive adults tomorrow.

In Afghanistan, the EQRA initiative is reaching girls in grades 1 through 9 for the first time through an alternative, community-based education system in places where there were previously no physical schools. Given the accumulating evidence that girls are likely to spend more time on home duties and childcare than school with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Bangladesh’s long-term initiatives with the Harmonized Stipend Program aim to promote access and retention in secondary education for girls.

With the Unlocking Human Capital for a Prosperous Nepal Project, investments in education for children and adolescents—particularly girls—are gaining center stage in Nepal. The COVID-19 Response, Recovery, and Resilience in Education Project in Pakistan are assisting the country’s recovery from the pandemic while also developing the technical and institutional capacity needed to rebuild a better and more resilient education system.

Informal employees have paid a high price for the COVID-19 crisis because they do not have access to considerable savings or benefits like paid sick leave or social insurance. World Bank is assisting India in filling key holes in its social protection system and adapting to the demands of informal employees, where informal workers account for 90% of the workforce.

Despite enormous hurdles, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for the globe to rebuild. To accomplish so, it is necessary to acknowledge that people are the wealth of nations and the foundation of human capital.

To control the pandemic’s effects and enhance the degree of ambition for human capital acceleration in the area, continued assistance and a special focus on human capital will be vital in IDA20.

South Asia is well on its way to transforming misfortune into opportunity, and by working together, we can create the groundwork for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery for all—a world where everyone can achieve their full potential.

Photo Credit: https://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/unlocking-and-safeguarding-human-potential-across-south-asia