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COVID-19 and fragile countries

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By AuthorAID Team | May 4, 2020  | None

The fifth in our series of researcher challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic comes from Courage C Dzvukamanja in Zimbabwe, a PhD Student at Africa University College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance, with research interests in global governance, security and development.

From December 2019 when the coronavirus was discovered, it has ravaged across regions but with different outcomes. Countries in sub Saharan Africa watched in awe as it evolved and traversed Asia and Europe, but until recently the thought of the virus reaching Sub Saharan African shores was distant. It was subjected to either conspiratorial explanations or yet-to-be verified scientific solace that Sub Saharan Africa’s hot temperatures are inhospitable to the virus, now called COVID-19.

Today, however, the region, which is also home to a plethora of fragile economies, is overwhelmed. Fragile economies are characterised by poor service delivery, particularly in health. With COVID-19, the emperor has risked being undressed and his clothes being taken away. First, an incapacitated state cannot escape questions of legitimacy. Second, with non-state actors resourcing more of the health delivery system, the state continues to see its role of directing development agenda being chiseled away. This scepter needs to be checked in development discourse. Overall, COVID-19 has provided peremptory causes for cessation of hostilities in most conflict-torn countries, except in Mozambique. But even in Mozambique, whatever the ‘moral ground’ insurgents have cannot withstand the urgency of COVID-19.

Crisis have been preeminent sources of change, and nowhere has this been significantly illustrated than in education. The notion of online learning in fragile economies presents a challenge for both governments and scholars but an opportunity for investments in data/internet connectivity. How governments in developing countries respond to this challenge has important implications on ending poverty.

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