Latin America and Caribbean Face Greater Pandemic Vulnerabilities According to New Research Map

A new online map highlights vulnerabilities that countries face in Latin America and the Caribbean. Jubilee USA Network and LATINDADD, two groups working on pandemic response, published the new online database detailing growing challenges faced by developing countries due to the pandemic.  

"Our new database and map is a resource for world leaders to make decisions on the growing health and economic challenges that countries face because of the pandemic," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of one of the groups that created the research map, Jubilee USA Network. "This information can help the G20 and IMF make decisions with real data that shows the pandemic impacted the income of countries in sectors like tourism," continued LeCompte. "We can see that developing countries had challenges before the coronavirus that made the pandemic worse."

The Atlas of Vulnerability highlights limitations developing countries face in responding to the pandemic. The research and map focus on 24 Latin America and Caribbean countries. 

"Our map brings together the whole range of economic, social and climate weaknesses that cripple pandemic response in developing countries.” said Patricia Miranda, Global Advocacy Director of LATINDADD. “The result of the research overcomes artificial categories of developing low- or middle-income countries. In Latin America, middle-income countries are the majority and were left out by global recovery policies."

Currently, only countries categorized by the World Bank as low-income can access emergency debt payment relief and other pandemic relief measures. The two groups argue that this approach may dangerously underestimate how middle-income countries are suffering pandemic damage.

The map includes data from 12 vulnerability dimensions: external sector, fiscal sector, private sector, health system preparedness, education, employment/social security, food/nutrition, climate, gender, poverty, inequality and physiological conditions. 

The online interface allows the viewer to see up to 55 indicators, find the top five vulnerability factors, pull up historical performance and compare with benchmarks from developed economies for each country. 

Some key data findings the map shows include:

  • For more than half of the countries, tourism dependence is higher than the world average.
  • Regional governments paid an interest rate 7.5% higher than that paid by the U.S. to borrow from international markets.
  • Tax revenue as a share of the economy is below the average in industrialized countries, except in one country. In 6 countries, it is less than half the average. 
  • In most countries, the number of people who died in the first year of the pandemic is more than 10% higher than the previous five year average, with four countries exceeding 55%. The average across Latin America is 2.7 times higher than in OECD countries.
  • Five countries have COVID-19 vaccination rates under 5% and only three countries reached more than 40%.
  • In more than half of the surveyed countries, less than 12% of the population can access any type of social safety net program, and it is only above 40% in one country.
  • More than 75% of countries show less climate response capacity than the global average.
  • More than 20% of people live in poverty in all but two of the countries, and poverty rates rose in all countries during the pandemic.

"The pandemic exacerbated developing countries’ vulnerabilities and we suffer the impacts now. If global policies don’t take them into account, recovery will take longer for our countries and our people, where women and girls bear the highest burden,” said Veronica Serafini, LATINDADD’s Gender and Macroeconomics Officer.

Developing country pandemic response is on the agenda for G20 leaders when they meet in Rome at the end of October.

“The hope is that presenting the data in this way will provide a clearer picture of the challenges in developing countries,” shared Aldo Caliari, Jubilee USA's senior policy director. “We need more action from wealthy countries so developing countries can confront the global crisis.”

On Wednesday, Jubilee USA and LATINDADD host a virtual event to present and provide a short tutorial on the map as well as discuss its findings with the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean, the International Labor Organization, and Climate Service Center of Germany. 

Explore the Atlas of Vulnerability: Developing Countries and the Pandemic here.

Read selected findings from the Atlas of Vulnerability here.

Read the full brief "Atlas of Vulnerability: The Pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean" here.

Register for the map launch and virtual tutorial on October 27, 2021, 10:00 AM ET here.