Earlier this year, the entire world came to a standstill as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) quickly spread across the globe. In an attempt to combat the pandemic, the world went into lockdown; schools closed, production chains ground to a halt, social life was disrupted, and people retreated into their homes. Everything changed.
Today, the scope of the pandemic and its devastating effects on people and economies is staggering. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of October 8, there have been 36 million confirmed cases globally, 1.2 million of which were in Africa.
World Bank Group President David Malpass recently recognized the unique nature of the COVID-19 crisis during his virtual Annual Meetings opening remarks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis like no other. Its toll has been massive and people in the poorest countries are likely to suffer the most and the longest,” he said. “The pandemic has taken lives and disrupted livelihoods in every corner of the globe. It has knocked more economies into simultaneous recession than at any time since 1870. And it could lead to the first wave of a lost decade burdened by weak growth, a collapse in many health and education systems, and excessive debt.”
Although figures show that African countries appear to have been relatively spared compared to other regions in the world, the socioeconomic impact of the virus is nonetheless severe. In its analysis of the region’s economic outlook, the World Bank's latest Africa’s Pulse report projects that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa will contract by -3.3% in 2020, driving the continent into its first economic recession in 25 years. The pandemic could also push 40 million Africans into extreme poverty, erasing at least five years of progress in poverty reduction efforts.
Additionally, WHO warns that “COVID-19 will not be the world’s last health emergency and there is an urgent need for sustainable health emergency preparedness to deal with the next one.” It is therefore critical for African countries to not only effectively address the current health crisis, but to get ready for the next one as well. Many countries have already put measures in place to save lives, protect livelihoods, and build a stronger future.
In an effort to find a common solution to a common challenge, we would also like to hear the views of African youth on the COVID-19 response. Based on the situation in your country, answer the following question:
How can young people work with their governments and civil society organizations to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system?