Conducted in December 2020, this second World Bank survey (the first was conducted in June 2020), shows that inequality has likely increased in PNG in the year since the pandemic began, and that the current COVID-19 outbreak is expected to deepen inequalities even further.
"According to the report, there were positive signs that PNG was starting to recover from the initial shocks of the pandemic between June and December 2020," explained Stefano Mocci, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea, in a press release on Thursday.
"However, it was largely wealthier households who were experiencing the fastest recovery in employment and income. In contrast, in areas with above average poverty, there were still high job losses," he stated.
Given a possible third wave of COVID-19 infections has strong potential to cause further declines in employment and income, he said, social and economic support needs to be targeted to those most vulnerable – the bottom 40% – to try and lessen the widening inequality gap.
In April 2020, the World Bank committed US$20 million to support PNG’s fight against COVID-19. The project has supported the Government of PNG to deliver personal protective equipment to all 22 provinces, scaled up lab-capacity for COVID-19 testing, and supported infection prevention training for health workers and essential frontline workers across the country.
This has been achieved alongside partners including the Australian Government (DFAT), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).