COVID-19’s impact on  the homebased workers in 6 member countries of HomeNet Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, as  of the end of March 2020

 HomeNet Cambodia
The Cambodian  government does not have any schemes  for  supporting formal and informal workers, micro-small-medium social enterprises/businesses. 
There is no loan with low interest, no regulation  of micro-finance institution-banks etc. regarding the delay of loan repayment for a certain period.This  affects many HBWs who borrowed money for increasing their production capacity.

There is an announcement  to discount 50% for  poor families  for utilizing  electricity  and will be effective this month.
When the borders closed, many of HBWs still produce the products from home and sell locally; however, there are fewer and fewer buyers. 
As for HBWs who are in Phnom Penh, they make masks from cotton Krama and  sell them either wholesale or retail through local trade fairs, but  the HNC coordinator told them not to join any new fair anymore to prevent the spread of  Covid-19. So they still make masks and sell through their Facebook. 
Many of the Artisan Association of Cambodia (AAC) members, who are the buyers of HBWs, have closed for at least for one month, and will make the decision  to operate or not after that, but they still pay  their workers. Some pay full salary, others pay  a certain percentage,   depending  on their financial situation.
Cambodian people call  on  the government to talk to the banks and micro-finance institutions to delay the repayment  but  there is no reaction from the government yet, The  HNC coordinator keeps following  up on this.
Covid-19 Testing is still limited and the  number of infections is increasing.
Fortunately, there is no HBW  or AAC artisaninfected  as of today.
Face book talk about Covid-19 is also not very open.
As a fair trade Association: AAC/NHC has actively been working on sending  information regarding Covid-19 and Personal Protective Equipment.
The Cambodian government has used hotels for Covid-19 infected patients.
The new announcement from government:  schools  are being prepared for patients if there is a high rise in  number.
There are seven  medical persons from China helping to combat Covid-19.
The Prime Minister plans to put Cambodia in emergency state, using martial law soon.

HomeNet Indonesia
The Indonesian government decided to impose a  semi lockdown.  It prescribes  social distancing,  now called  physical distancing,  as one of the  policies to cope with the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Indonesian government has other  policies:
– Relaxing the terms for  loans.  Informal workers such as taxi drivers, micro-entrepreneurs, self-employed, fisherfolk  who have loans, do not have  to pay for one  year. 
– Relaxing tax for all workers. The workers  withincome  under 16 million rp. per month willbe  free from tax.  
– Increasing  the cash transfer for the poor (who have PKH Card)  by  200.000 rp. per month, for six months.
But, street vendors, waste pickers, homeworkers in putting out system and construction workers  do not benefit from  policies addressing theirparticular situation.

HomeNet Laos

Informal workers found  life difficult because they are not  able to do normal work, market vendors are  not able to go out to sellproducts, waste  pickers are  not able to collect and sell, while some home-based workers are forced to stop their activity because of worries  about  covid-19.
But some  home-based workers and their families have no choice and  are still doing their activities like in  normal times , even  if they’re afraid  of  the virus, because  it’s better than having  nothing to eat.  
There are no national subsidies for informal workers, such as compensation or cash transfer, during  theCovid -19 crisis.

There is an announcement  to discount 50% for  poor families  for utilizing  electricity  and will be effective this month
Informal workers can’t find the important things : mask and alcohol gel for washing their hands.

HomeNet Philippines 

Following is a summary of  trends:

1) Steep rise in the number of cases, now more than 600; deaths at 35 (as of March 25), including five doctors and one university professor who died a few days after being admitted in a government hospital without benefit of getting the results of her covid 19 test (six days to process). Donations of test kits have just arrived from China, Korea, etc. so confirmed cases are expected to rise even more. However, these kits are not for all in need ; they will be used only for those who have severe symptoms. WHO predicts that if no decisive interventions are put in place, the number of cases can go up to 75,000 in five weeks. The lockdown is being implemented to slow the rise in cases, and ‘flatten the curve’ over time.
2) Health care system under severe stress — health personnel under threat because of lack of masks and other personal protective equipment, also due to lack of information and transparency from patients (A famous cardiologist died yesterday morning of covid 19 after being exposed to an infected patient without his knowledge; other doctors and nurses in the Philippine Heart Center where he worked and died are now under quarantine). Other exposed health workers in big hospitals are similarly on quarantine and therefore cannot render service. The acute lack of health care personnel(many of them are working abroad), already felt even before covid 19, has become a severe problem .

Big private hospitals have already announced they are no longer accepting patients. A few government hospitals have been designated as referral hospitals for Covid patients but their isolation rooms are limited. Many potential patients and “persons under investigation” with mild symptoms are being turned away to be accommodated in hotels and tents provided by local governments. Only those with spacious multi-room homes can afford self-isolation if they have symptoms as most people, especially those in poverty, live in crowded places.
3) Employment and economic crises are unfolding rapidly due to the enhanced community quarantine (actually a lockdown). More than 100,000 workers in the formal sector cannot work. Contractual workers who are employed on a no-work/no pay basis have no daily income. Workers in the informal economy — homebased workers, vendors, drivers, construction workers, micro-entrepreneurs- cannot go out of their homes and barangays. The plight of the working poor has become painfully obvious, and efforts to address their plight, from both government and private sectors, have acquired urgency. Because of the Luzon-wide lock down, market vendors and street vendors face difficulties; some really try to sell just to have money for  family consumption.Elderly people are not allowed to go out at all, and not allowed to go the markets – to buy food etc. It is very difficult for them as wel,, especially  ifthey do not have young people in their families.An aggravating factor is the return of almost a thousand overseas Filipino workers from infected cruise ships, and the impending displacement of 30,000 from the cruise industry.
Informal workers are supposed to be given an opportunity to work by going to their local government and applying for a 10 day job (actually sanitizing their homes)  that will pay minimum wage . But this has just been announced by the Secretary  of Labor and  implementation still has to be monitored. A new law (Bayanihan Heal as One Act) was just enacted with provisions to support low income groups. . One of them  grants informal workers  financial support during this  crisis  in the amount of  php 8,000 /month for  two months.
4) Hunger and social crises loom in the horizon. Local government efforts to provide food packs are too slow, too small, and will not last long.The relief goods (food packs) that are  provided by the government meant  for 18 million households, are not enough, especially for  big families.  This is the height of summer, and a water crisis just like what happened last year is possible. The heat is making home quarantine unbearable for many poor and crowded households living in virtual ovens. If covid-19 spreads in crowded areas, hospitals and health personnel cannot handle sudden surges in the numbers of those who will be infected. Social unrest, raiding supermarkets and warehouses (which happened after Typhoon Haiyan) can erupt. Such instances will most likely be quelled by more authoritarianism, if not martial law.
HomeNet Philippines has a  project  producing facial masks – washable cloth masks – buy 1 and give  one free – the free mask  is donated to someone who cannot afford. It’s more sustainable.

HomeNet Thailand
The number of Covid-19 patientshas  increased very fast these few days. Yesterday, the government just announced the emergency situation and semi lockdown from 22nd of March  until the end of April. All schools, universities, malls, restaurants, entertainment services are closed.  All traditional and religious festivals  are cancelled to avoid people gathering . Foreign visitors have to show the health certificate and the people,  especially  above 70, were asked to stay home.
HNT, the informal workers’ movement, with support of our alliances especially the media, strongly called for essential measures . On 23 March, the government announced the special measure for informal workers affected by the impact of  Covid-19 :
– Cash 5,000 B (about 50% of minimum wage) x 3 months
– 2.5 years loan : 10,000 B (interest is 0.1% /month)
– 3.5 years loan : 50,000 B (interest is 0.35% /month)
– reduction in  the interest rate  of state pawnshops.
– skills training, with per diem.has
The website for registration and submission of  application will start operation at the end of March 2020. Some of our members have  low technology and are in remote areas. So HNT has  to make sure that they can access. 
 UHC covers  all necessary tests and medical treatment of Covid-19 patients. And for informal workers who  are covered by  the Social Security Scheme, they will get daily cash and compensation  for lack of work income.
Some HNT leaders are also health volunteers. Their volunteer work is exposing them to more health risks. They educate and monitor the community members coming back from infected areas such as Bangkok to do home quarantine. Some violence case happen because of these.

HomeNet Vietnam
The government has policies and measures for formal workers only. 
HomeNet got the masks and alcohol for washing hand,  with  support from the Women’s Union, for their members.
Home-based workers in supply chains in the garment sector have  lots of difficulties;  70 per cent of contracts between Vietnam and EU have stopped and this is affecting home-based workers.
Street vendors lose their job due to social distancing policies.  
The waste collector is the mosthigh  risk group of infection, suffering  from both  physical and economic difficulties.

#InformalWorkers #HomeBasedWorkers #HomeNetSoutheastAsia#HNSEA #COVID-19