Unicef suggests extension of social welfare schemes

Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) suggests that the government extend social welfare schemes for children, older people and people with disabilities in a broader proportion.

Representative for Unicef in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar said at least all the risk of food and nutrition insecurity must be covered.

“What we would like to see is an additional temporary support for lower-income self-employed workers.

“There is a great means to continue support of these families who are self-employed and you know that the Covid-19’s impact has deteriorated their livelihood and opportunities for employment,” he said on Bernama TV’s Mid-day Update programme today.

He was replying to host Jessy Chahal’s question on what can be put in place by the government to ease the burden of lower-income urban families that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Feb 8, Unicef in a statement said unemployment among heads of low-income urban families in Kuala Lumpur low-cost flat has doubled during the last year’s conditional movement control order (CMCO).

It said the survey by Unicef and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) undertaken in December last year, found that the socio-economic conditions for around half of the households surveyed continue to deteriorate.

Based on Part Three of the Families on the Edge report, joblessness among heads of households has doubled from seven per cent in September 2020 to 15 per cent in December 2020, and one in three adults in participating households remain unemployed.

Meanwhile, Rashed Mustafa said continuous support from the government to those families is very important, and financial support is critical at this moment.

“We expect the same trend to continue up to April. Some low-income families will continue the process of partial recovery but the other will fall apart.

“It depends on the level of Covid-19 management in the world and in the country…but April is not far from now and we won’t see much difference if there were no massive social protection measures taken,” he said.

Part 3 of the Families on the Edge report is based on the third round of data collection conducted, where it describes the socio-economic status and wellbeing of a group of 500 families with children in Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost flats. The fourth, and final report, will be released in April 2021. – Bernama