Whilst the government is doing all it can to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, the recent lockdown exercise is hurting families.
The exercise is exposing family fault-lines especially between the “Have and the Have-Nots.”
If it were not for the generous assistance of Australia and other donors like the PRC this lockdown would have been a disaster. The lockdown exposes existing challenges and affordability issues in families.
“Those of us that depend on what little we sell to go by each day, the lockdown are hitting us hard,” John of Mamanawata settlement at the Mataniko River Mouth in Honiara said.
The cost of general merchandize that has sky-rocketed since the burning and looting to businesses on the 24th and 25th November, 2021 has shown no sign of abating, instead continues to head north.
Shop owners have deliberately taken advantage of the unfortunate state of affairs to boost their profits.
Prices of basic staples such as rice and locally canned tuna have gone up the roof by a whopping 50 percent pushing the economically disadvantaged population to the margins.
A bale of 10kg rice which was used to be $80.00 now costs $135.00 and a 180g can of locally canned tuna which was used to be $10.00 now sells at $15.00.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables at the Honiara’s Main Market are also spiraling reducing the quantity one normally gets for a $100 bill to near nothing.
“Had it not for the wiggly noodle, such a long protracted lockdown would only exacerbate the already deteriorating economic situation most families have long found themselves in,” he added.
He mentioned that four days diet of noodle and rice has its nutritional drawbacks and even the body could stomach it no more.
“However, this is the reality to hundreds of families out there,” he stressed.
“These families depend on the income derived from the sale of produces and or betel nut at the markets or roadside stalls to keep themselves going and such a long-drawn lockdown exercise is simply crippling."
The worst hit are families with neither parent working. The reason being that a good percentage of them are living on ‘hand to mouth’ basis and therefore, could not afford to waste a day without fending for something to eat.
These families are surviving on what little they sell during the day.
Most are residing in squatter settlements around the town’s peripheries.
These families are susceptible to the slightest of changes to the status quo.
“Whilst the aim of any lockdown is to curb and contain community transmission, we need to be fed at the end of the day,” John said.