COVID-19 Pandemic and Informal Urban Governance in Africa: A Political Economy Perspective

Peer Reviewed
30 September 2020

Onyishi, C. J., Ejike-Alieji, A. U., Ajaero, C. K., Mbaegbu, C. C., Ezeibe, C. C., Onyebueke, V. U., … Nzeadibe, T. C.

The outbreak and spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is probably the most serious global challenge since World War II. While research has paid considerable attention to the technical, epidemiological and public health aspects of the pandemic in Africa, it neglects the social, economic and political dimensions. Relying on analysis of data on trends of COVID-19 infections from the World Health Organization and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and a rapid review of available international and national policy/programme documents on COVID-19 control responses in Africa, this study assessed the extant protocols and responses to COVID-19 in relation to urban governance principles. Utilizing the political economy framework, the social conditions of informal labour and business activities during the COVID-19 pandemic are explored with accession to social habitus of informality. The paper argues that in as much as the COVID-19 pandemic is a pervasive health problem it should be treated more as a social and political economy challenge given the large informal nature of urbanism in Africa. The study concludes that urban governance that incorporates collective organization, community groups, non-state and informal actors offers scope in the battle against COVID-19 in Africa. Rethinking African urbanism in line with the principles of the Global Campaign on Urban Governance is also canvassed.

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Onyishi, C. J., Ejike-Alieji, A. U., Ajaero, C. K., Mbaegbu, C. C., Ezeibe, C. C., Onyebueke, V. U., … Nzeadibe, T. C. (2020). COVID-19 Pandemic and Informal Urban Governance in Africa: A Political Economy Perspective. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 002190962096016. doi:10.1177/0021909620960163

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Publication | 28 October 2020