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 was a 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 aimed 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 aimed to 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 of the project was 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 was to be achieved through two main objectives:

  1. 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.
  2. To share perspectives and experiences in participatory and culturally responsive ways to mobilise Northern and Southern expertise, resources and engagement.

This project intended to 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 was to 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.

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators


Dr Mia Perry, School of Education, University of Glasgow


Prof Jude Robinson, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

Dr Zoe Strachan, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow

Prof Nicol Keith, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow

Prof Sola Ajaayi, Technical University, Ibadan, Nigeria

Prof Jo Sharp, School of Geography, St Andrew’s University


Deepa Pullanikkatil, SFA; Abundance, Eswatini

Sizwe Mabaso, University of Eswatini

MmaB Modise University of Botswana

Tom Ketlogetswe, Thapong Arts Centre, Botswana

Priscilla Achapka, World Environmental Program, Nigeria

Femi Babtunde Governor’s Office, Osun State, Nigeria

Helen Todd, Art and Global Health Centre, Malawi

Jon Chiwanda, Ministry of Health, Malawi

Boyson Moyo, Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources

Alex Okot, Apala Widows and Orphanage Centre, Uganda

Reagan Kandole, ECOaction, Uganda

Richard Kagolobya, Makerere University

Ajibade Olusola, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Elson Kambalu, Art House Africa

Alasdair Currie, Multiplied by, Scotland

Project Manager:

Vanessa Duclos, School of Education, University of Glasgow


Start and End Date

September 2020 - August 2021

Funder and funding amount



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