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Building an urban evidence base on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa

03 - Good Health & Well Being
11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

UNESCO is launching a partnership with the Canadian Covid 19 Social Impacts Network and Metropolis Canada to conduct the project entitled COVID-19 Social and Economic Impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project aims at identifying key issues, indicators and socio-demographics in order to generate evidence-based responses that address the social and economic dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The project’s Advisory Committee will include prominent experts such as Michaelle Jean, former Governor-general of Canada and former Head of the International Francophonie, and Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Chair of the Canadian COVID-19 Social Impacts Network, Dr Jack Jedwab will lead the research team that will document the situation in several African cities with a focus on the following themes: 1) knowledge about COVID-19, 2) fear of contagion, 3) trust in institutions, 4) security, 5) mobility, and 6) discrimination, including racial and gender-based discrimination.

The World Bank reported that due to the impact of COVID-19 on the regional growth rate, Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to go through its first recession over the past 25 years.

© Shutterstock.com / Kelly Ermis

Over the last few months, attention has been raised on the impact of COVID-19 in developing countries, especially in Africa. In the webinar series organized by UNESCO in April 2020 entitled ″Inclusion in the time of COVID-19″, the Mayors of Kampala (Uganda) and Freetown (Sierra Leone), highlighted the importance of a whole-of-community approach in addressing the pandemic. This crisis has simply shown that the already existing structural inequalities, including discriminations, have been exacerbated at all fronts. Vulnerable groups of women, for example, are impacted more by the pandemic, given the gender-based discriminations that they have already been subjected to in terms of education, livelihood and health care.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic is recent, there is a general lack of data on pandemic-related phenomena and on evidence-based responses. In order to fill these gaps, UNESCO is collaborating with these research institutions with the support of its International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR in order to build a solid evidence base that will inform policymaking process in the context of the current crisis.