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A study reveals the impact of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable populations in Geneva

The situation of people living in hardship has been severely aggravated due to the Covid-19 crisis which has had a major socio-economic impact on them. Loss of employment and earnings, difficulties buying food and a deterioration of their health – these are the impacts according to a study conducted in May 2020 by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Geneva (UNIGE).

The measures proposed include facilitating access to a decent job and housing together with better information about existing social aid. The City of Geneva is pursuing its commitment to the food distribution operations and enhancing its local social information service.

The images of queues at les Vernets ice rink during the food parcel distribution operations from 2 May to 6 June 2020 made the headlines both at home and abroad. The team directed by Jean-Michel Bonvin, Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at UNIGE, undertook to meet these vulnerable inhabitants of Geneva. A questionnaire and interviews with the beneficiaries served as a basis for a study conducted in May 2020 at the request of the Colis du Coeur foundation and with the collaboration of the State and City of Geneva as well as the Protestant social centre and the CAPAS.

In total, 223 answers and 40 interviews were used. Some 77% of the respondents are aged between 25 and 50, two-thirds of whom are women. Approximately half have no legal status or are awaiting their long-term resident’s permit.

Deterioration in living conditions

In particular, the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis has had the following consequences on this population:

  • the fear of having insufficient food combined with a feeling of insecurity;
  • a significant fall in income, mainly due to the loss of employment which has affected 24% of the respondents;
  • a strong impact of the pandemic on their physical and mental health.

The level of education of the people questioned has no effect on their employment rate or income levels. The majority of them live in an overpopulated household (2 people or more per room). Finally, almost half the respondents have no health insurance.

One fact in particular is worth underlining: most of these people in need receive no institutional or associative aid, in particular due to a lack of information and insufficient awareness of the existence of these services.    

The measures proposed

The Bonvin report proposes combining the following economic and structural measures:

  • combat food insecurity;
  • facilitate access to a furlough scheme;
  • strengthen aid provided to companies and self-employed persons;
  • guarantee access to decent employment and housing;
  • develop access to information on rights and the services available. 

The City pursues its commitment

“The City is pursuing its commitment,” explains Christina Kitsos, Administrative Councillor responsible for Social Cohesion and Solidarity. Following its work in les Vernets, lasting one and a half months, and its active contribution to the decentralised food distribution operations since mid-June, the City will make the Palladium available to the Colis du Cœur, two days a week. At the same time, the local social information service will be reinforced, in particular by means of four information points, with a view to combating the non-use of the services available.


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Article modifié le 29.09.2020 à 10:47