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…people resorting to illegalities to cope with pressure of the pandemic
A study conducted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches into the impact of Covid-19 and the resultant lockdown on citizens has shown that many people are suffering stress and depression as a result of the loss of livelihoods.
The research findings document is titled, ‘The Impact of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe: Tracking the Lived Experiences, Adaptive and Innovative Strategies Adopted by Individuals and Groups’.
“The study found that a large number of people were being negatively affected mentally due to the various effects of (the) Covid-19 pandemic. There was notably a lot of distress and mental anguish among citizens as everyone sought to negotiate the pressures that the pandemic brought about,” the reports asserts.
The organization also claims that some 804 research participants who took part in an online survey suffered stress while 272 others suffered depression, with the other 62 showing suicidal tendencies.
“The crumbling of household economies, loss of means of livelihoods, restricted movements and limited interactions with others exacerbated mental pressures and further became a source of some of the vices such as increased gender-based violence (GBV) and substance abuse; violation of children’s rights through child labour; rise in girl child’s vulnerabilities and rise in juvenile delinquencies,” the report states.
How are people attempting to cope?
The report asserts that people have devised several ways of coming to terms with the psychological, economic and social impact of the pandemic.
Some of the ways are smoking, drinking, and sleeping more than usual; walking local distances and reducing the number of meals they have per day; and getting intimate more than usual.
“The majority of the respondents spent time at home during the Covid-19 era mainly in compliance with the Covid-19 control measures according to the FGDS (Focus Group Discussions) and KIIs (Key Informant Interviews) participants. In all the FGDs held, respondents indicated that they had reduced daily meals from three to one or two.
“Home-based projects such as gardening, brick moulding, poultry and others we adopted by pastors, teachers and students as an adaptation measure in the crisis context. Risky and illegal adaptive measures were also adopted: rise in illegal mining, illegal transport operations, flouting of curfew regulations, illegal brewing and consumption of substances as well as illegal border crossing are some of the illegal activities that were adopted,” the finding read.
Life after Covid-19
The greatest number of respondents (48 percent), according to the findings, looked to the future with hope while 38 percent expressed mixed feeling about what the future. Some 14 percent of the respondents perceived the future to be bleak.
ZCC goes not to recommend a ‘Leave No One Behind’ policy by which the psychological, economic and social needs of all citizens can be catered for.
“All adopted response mechanisms should ensure that all citizens are catered for. Policies and actions should be inclusive in order to address the specific needs of PWDs (People With Disabilities, youths refugees, minority groups, the urban poor and rural communities,” the reports states.
It also recommends a strong anti-corruption stance in order to restore in Covid-19 containment measures that are being implemented.
“The government should activate a process of accountability on that part of all players who were involved in Covid-19 activities. An audit of all Covid-19 donations should be done and outcomes be published,” it further reads.