The current COVID-19 emergency makes visible how deep structural inequalities shape what being infected and affected by the virus means for people across intersecting class, race, gender and other identities.
While the crisis has so far had significant impacts on Europe, USA and parts of Asia, its effects are starting to be felt across many African cities, a context where many of the blanket measures applied in other parts of the world are difficult to implement due to deeply entrenched inequalities.
’Staying safe by staying at home’
It is impossible for people without a home, those living in overcrowded and hazardous conditions without access to adequate water and sanitation, and those threatened by domestic violence. We have read devastating accounts of how lockdown policies force many urban dwellers to choose between income and safety, between hunger and disease, between health and livelihood.
Nevertheless, many countries across the region have experienced previous pandemics and have important lessons to share, both to contextualize social protective measures and to tackle deeply entrenched inequalities. Based on these experiences, the session explores how and what can be learnt from previous pandemics, such as the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and Liberia or HIV crisis in South Africa, to tackle these deep inequalities. In doing so, the aim is to go beyond learning from humanitarian assistance and emergency management. Rather, we are interested in the learning processes after the immediate crisis, which addressed the underlying, structural factors that shape vulnerabilities of marginalised communities, as well as their rights to habitat and collective capacities to act.
Annie Wilkinson – Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK
Mosoka Fallah – Acting Director General, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL)
Joseph Macarthy and Braima Koroma – Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC)
Yireh Conteh – Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP) and CODOHSAPA, Sierra Leone
Aditya Kumar – Development Action Group (DAG), South Africa
Sinead Walsh – European Union Ambassador to South Sudan and author of Getting to Zero
260 participants from 56 countries from all over the world, from CBOs, NGOs, local government, UN agencies, funders and academics and students.