Let us face it, the year 2020 did not only take us by storm, it has completely thrown us off balance. It has destroyed our sense of security (and insecurity) and created a new normal. In a world that is backed up by scientific research and academic predictions of life, we find ourselves in a dark spot. How did we get here?
Social scientists, economists, scientists and all other professionals are preoccupied with postmortem to get to the root of the change we now find ourselves in. Practical and theorarical models are being re-examined in a bid to find out if we could have read the signs earlier. For a country like the USA, its President Donald Trump has resorted to blaming the World Health Organization for not “warning the world” about the potential of the pandemic which started off in China’s Wuhan. Just as we are preoccupied with finding a cure and vaccine for the deadly virus, we are equally concerned with assigning blame for this global pandemic. World leaders at the World Health Assembly this week have called on the WHO to look into China’s role in the spread of the virus.
The principle of “lockdown” as a preventive measure for stopping the spread of the corona virus became popular globally ushering in an unprecedented shut down of just about every sector and world system. Migration came to a standstill, economic activity froze, social life was suspended, etc.
Almost three months later now, the world is beginning to reopen. Health workers and experts feel that lockdowns have played a role in controlling the spread of the virus even when we are still at risk due to lack of a clear cure or vaccine. Measures of social distancing and other ways of preventing the spread of the virus are being encouraged. Almost everywhere in the world now, it is advised that people where masks if they are going in public spaces.
The economic devastation of the corona virus pandemic will be felt in the coming months. For countries of the South, it is going to be worse. Even before the pandemic, issues of income inequality, lack of social security and unemployment were an on-going concern in the South. The pandemic has laid bare the cracks in the systems of most of these countries. While Western governments were able to cushion their citizens with stimulus payments into the economy (and) for living expenses, in countries like my Uganda, our government sought for assistance from its citizens in order to be able to respond to the corona virus.
It is surprising (to me atleast) that many countries of the Global South continue to rubber-stamp Western style responses to the threat of the virus. In most of these countries, the dynamics are totally different and leaders ought to have put this in mind before hurriedly implementing measures to contain the virus. Uganda for example has been on lockdown for almost two months now. It has registered less than 300 positive cases of the virus with over half of those being imported cases by cargo truck drivers from the Eastern Africa region.
The government attempted a free food distribution for the “urban poor” in two Districts of Uganda which is yet to wind up two months down the road. A patry six (6) kilograms of maize flour accompanied by an equally small measure of beans. It is the expectation of the governement in power that such a small ration of food could take families through two months of home stay!
As we continue to open up our economies, everything still hangs in balance. There is no definite cure for the virus nor has a vaccine been developed yet. We are warned that there could be a new wave of the corona virus. So, economies everywhere are opening up cautiously. Small businesses around the world have been badly affected and in countries where governments have not stepped in with a bailout, it is certainly possible they will close shop or suffer for long time to come. Questions like when international travel will resume still linger unanswered seeing that there is no uniform memo for the reopening of economies. For now, all we have to do is sit and wait.
Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi wrote this post and can be originally accessed here.