A policy brief by Caroline Krafft, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Political Science at St. Catherine University; Ragui Assaad, Professor of Planning and Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and Research Fellow at ERF and Mohamed Ali Marouani, Associate Professor in Economics at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, IRD Research Fellow and Research Fellow at ERF
COVID-19 and the policy response in Morocco and Tunisia The COVID-19 pandemic is still devastating countries across the world as of January 2021, with over 100 million confirmed cases and 2.2 million deaths to date globally (Dong, Du, and Gardner 2020). Morocco and Tunisia were somewhat spared by the first wave of COVID that hit in the spring of 2020 (Dong, Du, and Gardner 2020). By the end of July 2020, Morocco had a total of 23 thousand cases and 346 deaths, but both cases and deaths started growing rapidly in August and continued to accelerate through November. The number of daily cases peaked above six thousand per day in mid-November and had fallen to under a thousand per day by the time of writing in late January 2021. Cases remained low in Tunisia through early September, with only four thousand confirmed cases recorded through September 1st. The case count then accelerated rapidly, going from about 200 cases per day on September 1st to the first peak of three thousand cases per day in mid-October, dropping back briefly to just under two thousand cases per day in mid-December, before spiking again to a new peak in mid-January (Dong, Du, and Gardner 2020). Thus, at the time of the November wave of the COVID-19 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Monitor Survey that we report on here, both Morocco and Tunisia were at or close to the peak of their COVID health crises. In fact, daily deaths due to COVID peaked in Morocco around November 20th, whereas in Tunisia there were two peaks, the first on the 11th of November and the second the 21st of January (Dong, Du, and Gardner 2020).
In a nutshell
- Due to COVID-19, wage workers in Morocco and Tunisia have lost jobs, been temporarily laid off, experienced reduced hours, reduced wages, and delays in pay
- The impact of COVID-19 on wage workers has been minimal for public sector workers, but substantial in the private sector, and especially for informal workers, irregular workers, and those working outside establishments
- Farmers, the self-employed, and employers have experienced particularly sharp decreases in their revenues
- Although some workers and families are receiving government support, many in MENA are falling through a sparse safety net and experiencing large decreases in their income
- Additional social protection, as well as better targeting of support, will be needed to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic and ensuing economic challenges
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