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COVID-19 Pandemic: The Same Storm But Different Boats 

Written by: Chhuon Vanndasambath, a 4th year student majoring in Political Science and International Relations at Paragon International University

Edited by: Heng Kimkong, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Cambodia Development Center and a PhD Candidate in Education at The University of Queensland, Australia

(Photo credit: "mgo-00683 World Bank" by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.

Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar” - Damian Barr

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has faced the tragedy of a global health crisis, economic destruction, and social distress. Amid the pandemic, the phrase ‘we are all in the same boat’ has been repeated and has become a cliché everywhere, both online and offline. 

But are we really in the same boat, same pace, and same condition in response to this pandemic? Or are we in the same storm but completely different boats? 

COVID-19 has been regarded as the most devastating crisis in the world in the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization, over 100 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.5 million deaths globally. Regarding its economic impact, the International Monetary Fund has estimated a 5.4 percent decline in the global economy in 2021. It is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. COVID-19 is a disease that knows no border or race; anyone can be infected if they are careless about protective measures.

COVID-19 can be considered as a storm that affects different states and people which are considered as boats. The presence of COVID-19 has brought significant negative impact on the world and human beings. However, everyone is not in the same boat as some people would think because each of us does have different techniques and quality of control and treatment in response to COVID-19. We are clearly in different boats amid the same storm because some countries and people are in a large boat, a ship or a superyacht that can provide them with safety and protection from the storm for a long time, while others are in small fragile boats that can be destroyed by the same storm quickly. 

No doubt, people around the world are facing the same storm, the same global economic crisis, and the same global health crisis, yet not everyone is in the same boat or in the same situation under the same COVID-19 storm. Although the storm may have brought the same issues to all people, the level of difficulties everyone is facing may not be the same. Some people are still in a better condition than their peers. For instance, people in rich countries or rich people in developing countries are more likely to have enough resources and capacity to effectively sail through the COVID-19 storm. In contrast, poor people in developing countries, especially those who are living just above or under the poverty line are struggling with many issues, including hunger, food insecurity, and hardship resulting from the economic recession. As Darmian Barr puts it

[...] For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, of reconnection. For others, this is a desperate crisis. For others, it is facing loneliness. For some, peace, rest time, vacation.

Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills? Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter. Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days. - Damian Barr

Since we are in the same storm of COVID-19, what we can do is to help each other. It does not mean that we are in a different boat and we would have different responsibilities. We should bear in mind that although people are in different boats, they have the same purpose: to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic is like a storm that affects everyone, that is, anyone can be infected by the virus. As the virus can spread across borders, the safety of one state cannot be secure when COVID-19 is still rampant in other states. Thus, a collective approach during this time is much more important than individual approaches. We need to come together in the spirit of empathy, responsibility, and cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels to combat this global issue.

COVID-19 is a serious problem that we are unable to resolve on our own. Yet through cooperation and unity among states and individuals, we are more likely in a position to solve this vicious pandemic. Our joint efforts should be the viable way forward for us to combat the pandemic, allowing the world and humanity to be free of this virus. It is a moment where the powerful and wealthy must assist the frail and vulnerable.

Let’s help each other overcome the COVID-19 storm.  It starts from each of us who plays a vital role in saving our community, country and the world. 


*This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.