Whose crisis?: The global COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of communities in Africa
Although COVID-19 is a health issue, the crisis is far more than a health crisis. It is a social and cultural one that is currently poorly understood and minimally represented in the context of the Global South. The project is an urgent response to a rapidly evolving global pandemic whereby the North is leading -- by example and economic pressure -- a response to an emergency affecting communities all over the world. The “Whose Crisis?” project aims to co-curate representations and develop understandings of the social and cultural crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and expose unseen and misunderstood aspects of this time. The project will provide critical insights and inform and contribute to more equitable global responses including those related to health, policy, economics, and education.
Immediate cultural production, critical commentary and public policy are being showcased and circulated globally with substantial affect – this may prove to be the most documented pandemic in history. However, the dominant discourses are generated in the Global North, overwhelmingly by a minority of wealthy and powerful authors, reflecting on a crisis that, while impacting the whole world, is experienced in vastly different ways. This project positions our Southern partners centrally as agents of change within the volatile environment of the COVID-19 crisis.
The overarching aim is to amplify the voices of under-represented and under-served communities in Africa to contribute to the understanding of Global Health in a pandemic context. It will be achieved through two main objectives:
- To document and communicate the plural and diverse lived experiences of, perspectives on, and responses to, COVID-19 in vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa at a community and household level.
- To share perspectives and experiences in participatory and culturally responsive ways to mobilise Northern and Southern expertise, resources and engagement.
This project will mobilise the rapidly evolving COVID-19 expertise within the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) network, and the capacity of partner communities, to create the SFA COVID-19 Global Voices Hub, that curates, consolidates, acknowledges and catalyses experiences, perspectives and responses to the pandemic. This project will create a platform and a pathway for understanding and exchange for societal, health, economic, government and public stakeholders, to inform responsive action. The implications of ignoring cultural perspectives and practices and missing the opportunities to learn from all, will lead to further inequity, misdirected policies, misallocated resources, increased dominance of certain viewpoints and increased ignorance of the plurality of our experiences.
First published: 9 February 2021