COVID-19 can be devastating for rural employment in Latin America, says ILO

The International Labor Organization (ILO) warned this Friday in a statement that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can be devastating for rural employment in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is why it recommended that states prevent and mitigate infections in this sector. due to its high vulnerability.

“Although the demographic density is lower in rural areas, the impacts could be much more devastating. This is a sector that, even before the pandemic, was marked by poverty, exclusion and informality in employment,” said Efraín Quicaña, ILO regional specialist in rural economy.

According to the latest available data from the ILO in Latin America, 76.8% of rural workers have informal jobs, which is equivalent to about 41 million people. In general, informal work implies unstable, low-income jobs without social protection or labor rights.

In the case of women in rural areas, the informality rate stands at 78.8%, above that of men, which is 75.9%.

“The rural informal economy faces additional challenges, as these are areas that are generally less equipped to prevent and respond to a health emergency such as COVID-19, with difficulties in accessing basic services, especially health and sanitation services. “Quicaña warned.


The specialist stressed that the repercussions may be even greater in agriculture, “key not only in terms of employment and economically, but also in terms of food security during and after the pandemic.”

For this reason, he advised adopting a territorial and sectoral approach to crisis management and promoting the revival of activities in rural areas to guarantee the survival of people, employment, income and food security.

In this sense, it encouraged social dialogue and the involvement of social actors (employers’ organizations and unions) as essential components to ensure success both in the phases of the crisis and in the exit and reactivation.


For Quicaña, measures on rural employment must focus on saving lives, preventing and mitigating contagions, guaranteeing protection and food security, saving companies, protecting workers and laying the foundations for the reactivation of activities and sectors.

“Today more than ever, the adoption of measures to save jobs, incomes and companies that are inclusive and sustainable during all phases of the pandemic is key,” said the ILO regional specialist.

In Latin America almost 475,000 cases of COVID-19 have been registered until this Friday, nearly half in Brazil alone, which registers 218,223 accumulated infections, followed by Peru with almost 85,000 and Mexico with 45,000.


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