The worst face in Africa’s cities is in dilemma

The worst face in Africa's cities is in dilemma

PJS informal settlement in South Africa before Easter: a difficult place to adopt behavior that reduces coronavirus transmission. Sincerely: Thabal Tsitsa, Development Economics Group in South Africa

A recent study in South Africa and Ghana shows that people support government steps to counter COVID-19 but lack the necessary infrastructure and financial security to maintain basic security.

When South Africa imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on 27 March of this year, Antoinette van der Merwe went to visit his family in Pretoria. All Banned, aircraft were grounded, and only those working in essential industries like food and energy were allowed to go to work. “I left home only once during the first three weeks,” says Van der Merwe, a doctor at the Development Economics Group at ETH NADEL. Once she sees the impossibility of returning to Zurich soon, she decides to make the best of this situation: as a development economist, she realizes that she had a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of the epidemic and a Strict South Africa’s poorest urban homes.

Together with her colleague Catherine Durizo and supervisor Professor Isabel Gunther, she designed a study to compare the situation in South Africa with her in Ghana. Durizo is doing research for his research in Ghana’s health system. With the help of research partners at universities in Pretoria and Ghana, the researchers gained access to the phone numbers of people living in Johannesburg and Accra, the two African cities with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, in April. Van der Merwe and Durizo each focused on the districts of the city which have a high proportion of poor households.

Lack of infrastructure for social discrimination

The study, based on 409 telephone interviews in Johannesburg and 1,034 in Accra, confirms the findings of research conducted in other countries: a lockdown aimed at curbing the COVID-19 pandemic specifically on poverty-stricken families in the Global South Has harmful effects. . For many of those surveys, the lockdown meant losing their jobs immediately while facing high prices for food. Sixty-seven percent of self-employed respondents in South Africa and 86 percent in Ghana — were forced to close their businesses due to the lockdown without any financial compensation. To survive, both he and daily wage laborers, who live in an informal economy, need to be able to leave home and work by public transport, often in congested minibuses. Despite this, most people followed strict lockdown rules. However, some 30 percent of those polled said they continue to mix with large groups of people, 20 percent continue to receive visitors at home, and 30 percent leave home more than once a week. Give. This was not due to lack of information. Most people were able to put together a relatively clear picture of the situation, usually based on what they saw on television. What’s more, most people considered the measures taken by the government to be appropriate, so there was definitely a desire to stick to the rules. Nevertheless, lack of infrastructure in economic necessity and poor urban settlements, where many households often share sanitation facilities, makes it impossible for many to maintain a constant social distance.

Some aspects of the study revealed different differences between the two countries. In Ghana, respondents stated that their biggest concerns were food prices and lack of income, while South African respondents, especially women, also tended to express their fear of falling ill. This may be due to the fact that many poor families in South Africa continued to receive state benefits during the lockdown. The situation hit children particularly hard: With schools closed, 37 percent of parents in South Africa said There was no reading or learning of any kind the day before the survey. And since the majority of children in households surveyed in South Africa, and nearly half of those surveyed in Ghana, received food in school, the decision to close the schools had a financial impact on families as well as time spent on childcare Increased.

Lockdown-induced fear persists

The study also showed that the lockout in South Africa, which was much stricter than when it was planted in Ghana, did not necessarily follow the social removal guidelines more closely. Most respondents stated that they were much more afraid of losing their jobs and were holding COVID-19 than moving on from poverty, Van der Merwe says. “Should case numbers begin to rise again, our findings suggest that South African authorities should also consider different ways of responding to epidemics that enable people to follow the rules.” She cites examples such as investing more in public transport and running additional information campaigns.

Van der Merwe and Durizo are currently working on a follow-up study. In July and August, they asked some 80 percent of the original respondents how their situation had changed since the lockdown was eased. “The results showed that Ghanaians are less concerned than people in South Africa,” Durizo says. “The situation in Ghana returned to normal more quickly, as the lockdown was not as extreme for people in South Africa.”

Ghana virus cases spike 10 days after lockdown is removed

Quotes: The Worst Faced Dilemma in Africa’s Cities (2021, 14 January) retrieved 14 January 2021 from

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