COVID-19 Resources

covid-19 website banner

As the Harvard Center for African Studies continues to broaden public and scholarly awareness about Africa, African experiences, and African perspectives, we will be continuously updating this page with Africa-related resources and initiatives that our community is currently involved in with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to review how CAS Faculty AffiliatesAfrica Advisory BoardLeadership Council, and Harvard alumni have been involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response below.

If you have any resources or you are doing work that addresses COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us at africa@harvard.edu.

--

This page was last updated on May 28, 2020.

 

May 26th Africa and COVID-19 Numbers

These statistics will be updated every week. Get the most updated numbers from the Africa CDC website.

COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 & Africa Webinar Series

The Harvard University Center for African Studies in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is hosting a series of webinars on the topic of COVID-19 and Africa. Held each Wednesday for one hour from 10am EST beginning on May 13th, CAS’ Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series will bring together the private sector, policy makers, academics, and practitioners for a series of conversations across health, technology, and economy, among others. Please check our calendar for upcoming webinars and join our weekly newsletter to receive updated information. 

Upcoming Webinars

 

Past Webinar Recordings and Reports

 

 

Read

  • Get the most updated statistics on COVID-19 on the African continent via the Africa CDC website here.

 

  • May 14, 2020: Madikay Senghore, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (CCDD), at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, co-authored an article on Leveraging Africa's preparedness towards the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Most African countries have a narrow margin for error because of weak health systems operating at near capacity outside of a pandemic and the need to maintain control of other infectious diseases. Staggered periods of relaxed social distancing could avoid a large resurgence of cases while providing respite for economic activity. However, monitoring the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions and exercising flexibility in their implementation needs to be guided by continued surveillance through community testing. To meet this demand, testing capacity and implementation need to be scaled up substantially.

 

  • May 14, 2020: Read an article on how Archaeology shows how ancient African societies managed pandemics.
    • Social distancing and isolation have become watchwords during the COVID-19 pandemic. From archaeology, we know that the same practices formed a critical part of managing pandemics in historical African societies. In what is Zimbabwe today, the Shona people in the 17th and 18th centuries isolated those suffering from infectious diseases - such as leprosy - in temporary residential structures. This meant that very few people could come into contact with the sick. In some cases, corpses were burnt to avoid spreading the contagion.

 

  • May 11, 2020: David Williams, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, co-authored an article on COVID-19 and Health Equity—A New Kind of “Herd Immunity”.
    • COVID-19 is a magnifying glass that has highlighted the larger pandemic of racial/ethnic disparities in health. For more than 100 years research has documented that African American and Native American individuals have shorter life spans and more illness than white persons. Hispanic immigrants initially tend to have a relatively healthy profile but with increasing length of stay in the US, their health tends to decline. A black infant born in the US is more than twice as likely to die before his or her first birthday compared with a white infant. In adulthood, black individuals have higher death rates than white persons for most of the leading causes of death.

 

  • May 5, 2020Africa CDC Outbreak Brief #16: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.

  • April 23, 2020: The Harvard Center for African Studies and other Centers and Departments issued a joint statement on Xenophobic and Racist Actions in Response to COVID-19

    • We strongly condemn xenophobic and racist acts arising from the global COVID-19 pandemic. International media outlets have reported on incidents worldwide targeting individuals and communities of Asian ancestry and the spread of racially targeted misinformation on social media platforms. Xenophobic and racist actions have also been reported against African and African American communities in Guangzhou, China. The reported actions are not only unjust and inhumane but serve to undermine the required global cooperation in response to COVID-19.

 

  • April 22, 2020: Professor Peter Huybers, member of the Center for African Studies Steering Committee and Executive Committee, co-authored  research on Fever and mobility data indicate social distancing has reduced incidence of communicable disease in the United States.
    • "Estimating the effectiveness of these socialdistancing strategies is challenging because surveillance of COVID-19 has been limited, with tests generally being prioritized for high-risk or hospitalized cases according to temporally and regionally varying criteria. Here we show that reductions in mobility across U.S. counties with at least 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 led to reductions in fever incidences, as captured by smart thermometers..."

 

  • April 22, 2020: Hippolyte Fofack,the Chief Economist and Director of Research and International Cooperation Department at the African Export-Import Bank authored an opinion on Shifting from reliance on commodities crucial for Africa.
    • Every crisis, though tragic, presents opportunities. The combination of the coronavirus downturn and oil price war has underscored the perennial risk of commodity dependency. It has also accentuated the need to expand industrial and manufacturing capabilities in Africa. Many countries on the continent are reliant on overseas imports for essential goods, including staple foods, while intraregional trade remains largely fragmentary. As the coronavirus circles the world, African leaders face a dire challenge. Closing their borders might shield their countries against the unchecked spread of the virus, but risks starving their populations and curtailing access to critical medical equipment that is in short supply in the region.

 

  • April 21, 2020: Euvin Naidoo, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration lists 7 Successful Battle Strategies to Beat COVID-19.
    • "The Agile methodology used to speed complex software development is also helpful for managing decision-making in today's crisis environment."

 

  • April 21, 2020: Shelby Carvalho, PhD student and Presidential Merit Fellow at Harvard University, co-authored a blog post on How Are International Donors Responding to Education Needs during the COVID Pandemic?
    • "The pandemic and its consequences are likely to continue for a long time and will inevitably have lasting impacts on education systems. Clarity on which donors are doing what, how, and why is key to helping education systems navigate the pandemic and to limiting growth of already wide finance gaps for education in developing countries."

 

  • April 20, 2020: Shelby Carvalho, PhD student and Presidential Merit Fellow at Harvard University, co-authored a blog on The Pandemic Reinforces Age-Old Urban Rural Divides in Access to Education in Ethiopia.
    • "In the face of an uncertain global crisis and the potential for a prolonged time out of school, it makes sense to invest in developing remote learning strategies in Ethiopia. Yet, our interviews suggest that there is a need for more engagement with students, families, and teachers to communicate the importance of learning while schools are closed and to support the development of equitable and effective solutions for emergency learning and eventual recovery moving forward."

 

  • April 16, 2020: Myriam Sidibe Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School, co-authored an article on Africans can fight COVID-19 with stakeholder capitalism.
    • With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to overwhelm much of Africa, companies on the continent must broaden their perspective. Instead of focusing on short-term returns for owners and investors, they must consider the needs of a variety of stakeholders – employees, suppliers, customers, and the societies in which they operate. This stakeholder capitalism will help companies rewrite their rules of community engagement and rebuild their businesses faster post-COVID-19.

 

  • April 16, 2020: CAS Faculty Affiliate, Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson, offers her perspective on Learning and Community in a Time of Crisis.
    • "In times of crisis, standardized and widely-accessible approaches are essential to help combat existing inequalities and avoid exacerbating them, even in typically decentralized education systems like the United States. During the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014, teachers recorded lessons on radio providing a trusted voice directly into the homes of millions of children."

 

  • April 15, 2020Professor Rema Hanna, Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Chair of the International Development Area at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-authored an article on Cushioning the Poor from the COVID-19 Shock.
    • "Expanding social protection to reach vulnerable people quickly must be a pillar of every country’s COVID-19 strategy. To achieve this, resource-constrained governments must look to past experience and existing research to design the most effective and efficient programs possible."

 

  • April 14, 2020Nerissa Naidoo LLM’19, explores COVID-19 disinformation in South Africa in the article A Look at South Africa’s Covid-19 Disinformation Regulations.
    • "But just because there’s no legal obligation to ensure the credibility of the information we share, doesn’t mean we don’t have a social one. The categories of false information enumerated in the regulations have the potential to result in physical harm, incite fear or discrimination, and derail public health efforts."

 

 

  • April 15, 2020Professor Rema Hanna, Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Chair of the International Development Area at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-authored an article on Cushioning the Poor from the COVID-19 Shock.
    • "Expanding social protection to reach vulnerable people quickly must be a pillar of every country’s COVID-19 strategy. To achieve this, resource-constrained governments must look to past experience and existing research to design the most effective and efficient programs possible."

 

 

  • April 15, 2020: A survey by GeoPoll on Coronavirus in Sub-Saharan Africa: How Africans in 12 nations are responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak.
    • "Although many countries in Africa have only reported a small number of cases, there is a high level of fear surrounding the outbreak; The level of concern is high across all countries, and a majority also believe that they themselves are at risk of contracting the disease. Food security and the economic impacts of the disease on economies that have already been struggling are at the top of mind for many people, aligning with warnings from experts that sub-Saharan Africa could experience high levels of food insecurity and an economic recession due to the virus."

 

 

  • April 13, 2020: Free Harvard edX course begins on Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic
    • This four-week course provides the context in which to understand the Ebola outbreak -- why now, and why did so many people suffer and die? The course lays out the global governance structure -- what was the global response supposed to look like, and where did it fail? The course will feature practitioners, experts, and scholars who will focus on cultivating a better understanding of the Ebola epidemic and implications for future health systems to ensure that the world is more effective in preventing the next pandemic.

 

 

  • April 12, 2020: Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa appoints special envoys to mobilize international economic support for continental fight against COVID-19. Read press release here.
    • The Chairperson of the African Union, President of the Republic of South Africa His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr Donald Kaberuka, Mr Tidjane Thiam and Mr Trevor Manuel as Special Envoys of the African Union to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges African countries will face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  • April 9, 2020: Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs published a new case on COVID-19 & Security: Lessons From the Ebola Fight: “Managing a Security Response to the Ebola Epidemic in Liberia
    • In the rush to address COVID-19, policymakers are looking at recent outbreaks for guidance. Particularly relevant is the rise, spread, and containment of Ebola in West Africa in 2014. A new case from Harvard Kennedy School’s Case Program looks at the security lessons we can learn from that crisis. The case, developed by Margaret Bourdeaux and Juliette Kayyem of the Belfer Center’s Security and Global Health Project, looks at the various state and nonstate actors involved in containing a viral epidemic. It also explores how and whether security forces can be used to impose quarantines and the ramifications of such a decision.

 

  • April 8, 2020: CAS Executive Committee member, Professor Fernando Reimers, published a free, Open Access book, just published, explaining how to reform education systems so they educate all students as global citizens, with the necessary competencies to achieve the UN SDGs: Educating Students to Improve the World.
    • This open access book addresses how to help students find purpose in a rapidly changing world. In a probing and visionary analysis of the field of global education Fernando Reimers explains how to lead the transformation of schools and school systems in order to more effectively prepare students to address today’s’ most urgent challenges and to invent a better future. Offering a comprehensive and multidimensional framework for designing and implementing a global education program that combines cultural, psychological, professional, institutional and political perspectives the book integrates an extensive body of empirical literature on the practice of global education.

 

 

  • April 2, 2020CAS Leadership Council member, Amandla Ooko-Ombaka co-authored this article: McKinsey: Tackling COVID-19 in Africa.
    • Across the continent, leaders in the public, private, and development sectors are already taking decisive action—both to save lives and to protect households, businesses, and national economies from the fallout of the pandemic. But several leaders have told us that they need a clearer picture of the potential economic impact of the crisis. At the same time, many African countries are still in the early stages of organizing their responses into focused, prioritized efforts that make the most of the limited time and resources available.

 

 

  • March 30, 2020: CAS Executive Committee member, Professor Fernando Reimers, co-authored this report to support the development of an education response to COVID-19: A framework to guide an education response to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020
    • This report aims at supporting education decision making to develop and implement effective education responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The report explains why the necessary social isolation measures will disrupt school-based education for several months in most countries around the world. Absent an intentional and effective strategy to protect opportunity to learn during this period, this disruption will cause severe learning losses for students.

 

  • March 29, 2020:  Folorunso Alakija, CAS Africa Advisory Board member and Vice-Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited, donated N1 billion (US$ 2.6 million) to support the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
    • “As the world rallies to deal with the health, security, economic and social implications of the coronavirus, it’s clear that we will feel the effects much more deeply than many of the developed world. Managing a crisis of this magnitude means that the strength of our response will determine our ability to weather the storm. Individually and collectively, we are rising to this unprecedented challenge in a way that symbolizes our resilience, our character and strength.” - Read more in this article.

 

  • March 29, 2020: Harvard Sociology Department Lecturer, Shai Dromi, shared his thoughts on Africa and philanthropy during COVID-19 with Inside Philanthropy: COVID-19 is Spreading in Africa. How Should Philanthropy Respond?
    • "Philanthropists wanting to make an effective intervention during COVID-19 should turn to one of the most commonly neglected aspects of epidemic interventions: continuing healthcare for all medical conditions and supporting the local healthcare systems in affected countries. Not only will this strategy help patients in need during the pandemic, it will also help the country sustain its independent healthcare sector in the long run. ​​​​​​"

 

  • March 25, 2020Q&A on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on developing countries with Professor Rema Hanna, Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Chair of the International Development Area at the Harvard Kennedy School.
    • "The economic impact may be devastating as production, retail, trade, and almost everything comes to a standstill.  For developing countries, it will be particularly devastating as they have fewer resources and lower borrowing ability to raise the funds needed to provide the kinds of health and economic support their citizens need, and providing the kind of support that citizens need right now could risk debt spiraling out of control."

 

  • March 24, 2020: Ricardo Hausmann, Director of the Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development and the Rafik Hariri Professor of the Practice of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, authored an article on Flattening the COVID-19 Curve in Developing Countries.
    • "The more contained you want the novel coronavirus to be, the more you will need to lock down your country – and the more fiscal space you will require to mitigate the deeper recession that will result. The problem for most of the Global South is that policymakers lack fiscal space even in the best of times."

 

 

  • March 5, 2020: Africa CDC: Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreak
    • In Africa, the primary strategy for COVID-19 will be to limit transmission and minimize harm. Given that transmission throughout the continent is inevitable, delaying and diminishing the peak of outbreaks can help health systems better manage the surge of patients and communities better adapt to the disruption of social, cultural, and economic activities. Tactics to achieve this include rapid diagnosis and isolation of infected persons, quarantine of people who had close contact with an infected person, and social distancing within the general population. Rigorous infection prevention and control practices will be needed in healthcare facilities and other high-risk congregate settings, including schools and prisons. Healthcare facilities will need to restrict hospital admission to infected persons who absolutely require a higher-level of care, such as intravenous antibiotics, oxygen, ventilatory or hemodynamic support, and/or management of complex co-morbid conditions.

Watch & Listen

 

 

 

  • April 7, 2020CAS Faculty Affiliate, Dr. Paul Farmer, and co-founder of Partners In Health, a global health non-profit, is featured on Reimagined Podcast's first episode of a new series Covid-19: the long view with Dr. Paul Farmer. He discusses what can lessons from Ebola teach us about how to effectively deal with Covid-19. Is this the moment to rebuild our human social architecture to ensure fatalities on this scale never happen again?
    • “Shame on us if we cannot seize this moment to make some desperately needed improvements in our health systems.”

 

  • March 27, 2020: She Leads Africa, co-founded by CAS Leadership Council member, Yasmin Belo-Osagie, is offering a free webinar "Are you an African woman who needs a supportive network through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond?" Join their community here to gain access.
    • She Leads Africa is a community that helps young African women achieve their professional dreams. With engaging online content and pan-African events, our vision is to become the #1 destination for smart and ambitious young women.

 

  • March 19, 2020: Mass General hosted its second Medical Grand Rounds lecture related to COVID-19. Members of the Greater Boston medical community, presented on the global effects of the pandemic. Watch the video here COVID-19 in Low-resourced Settings: Reaching for Global Health Equity.
    • Speakers included Louise Ivers, the executive director of the Mass General Center for Global Health,David Walton, MD, MPH, of Build Health International and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Inobert Pierre, MD, of Health Equity International and St. Boniface Haiti; Quarraisha Abdool Karim, PhD, of the Centre for the Programme of AIDS Research in South Africa, Columbia University; and Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, of Partners In Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

 

  • March 5, 2020: The Harvard Global Health Institute Director and K.T. Li Professor of Global Health, Dr. Ashish Jha asks Dr. John Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on preparing for Coronavirus: How did he do it, what is the current capacity for testing, and what's next as the virus spreads around the world? You can watch this short video here: How Africa's CDC is Testing for Coronavirus.

 

Initiatives & Opportunities

  • June 30, 2020: The COVID-19 Detect & Protect Challenge (Submission deadline: June 30, 2020)
    • The UNDP is calling on Hackster's global community to support developing countries through the sharing and transfer of open source technology. This challenge has three priority actions:

      • Design replicable, low-cost tools and resources to aid viral detection
      • Flatten the curve in communities with preventive solutions
      • Reduce the disease's impact on the economies of these vulnerable areas

 

  • June 13, 2020UNICEF / Cartedo African Youth COVID-19 Challenge (Submission deadline: June 13, 2020)
    • This challenge gives youth a voice in exploring how we might empower people and communities to become more pandemic-resilient. We are looking for your ideas to solve real challenges faced by real people just like you. This challenge offers you the opportunity to develop future-ready employability skills like design thinking while contributing to the global efforts to tackle COVID-19.

 

  • April 30, 2020: The Harvard Graduate School of Education has compiled publications to facilitate educational opportunity and continuity during the Pandemic. Check out the publications here.

 

 

  • April 17 - 19, 2020Africa vs. Virus Challenge: 72-hour Ideathon: Addressing the challenges presented by the global Novel Coronavirus pandemic to African societies, economies and individuals and prototyping tech and non-tech solutions. Governments, civil society organizations, companies and citizens are all invited to submit challenges until Wednesday, April 15.

 

  • April 13, 2020: The time to act is now: A letter to African leaders about the Covid-19 crisis:
    • This letter is addressed to leaders of all walks of life, to the people of Africa and to all those that are committed to rethinking the continent. We invite them to seize the opportunity of the coronavirus crisis to join efforts in rethinking an African state in the service of the well-being of its people, to break with a model of development based on the vicious cycle of indebtedness, to break with the orthodox vision of growth for the sake of growth and of profit for the sake of profit.

 

  • April 7, 2020: Drew Edwards Harvard Graduate School of Education alum wrote a story "The Unwelcome Stranger: COVID-19" to provide important public health information through a narrative that empowers parents to discuss COVID-19 with their children available for free in Acholi, French, Luganda, Rutooro, and Swahili with more languages to come.

 

  • April 3, 2020The State of Massachusetts launch a contact tracing initiative with Partners In Health (PIH), the global non-profit co-founded by CAS Faculty Affiliate, Dr. Paul Farmer.
    • “Whether fighting Ebola in West Africa, tackling HIV and tuberculosis for a generation, or facing the sudden emergence of cholera in Haiti, we at Partners In Health know that even as we prepare the hospitals in the commonwealth to provide safe and effective care to all the people who are sick, we must simultaneously stop the ongoing spread of COVID-19 if we are to end this terrible pandemic” - Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Harvard Medical School associate professor of global health and social medicine and PIH’s chief medical officer.

 

  • April 1, 2020: Refuge Point, an organization in Kenya which is closely associated with CAS Executive Committee member, Professor Jacqueline Bhabha, shares what they are doing to provide their clients with life-saving core services to protect refugees from COVID-19 including delivering handwashing station, distributing food and medicine, and disseminating public health information.
    • COVID-19 has spread to Nairobi, and we are working to ensure that refugees in Nairobi will not be forgotten or overlooked during this pandemic. Nairobi's population is almost as big as New York's, which is now the US epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic because of its density. Nairobi's impoverished areas are even more crowded. 

Events

2020 Jun 03

Law and Crisis Management: Working with Lawyers in Business, Government, and Society to Manage the Challenges of COVID-19

10:00am to 11:00am

Location: 

Virtual Event - Details Below

The covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to businesses, governments and societies across Africa and the world. Solutions to the crisis will require innovative thinking, challenging businesses, governments, and societies to collaborate in novel ways. The law plays distinct roles in this process, whether through the development of new public-private partnerships or ensuring that the least advantaged are not left behind. Drawing on insights from leading lawyers across Africa, this webinar focuses on how the law connects businesses, governments, and societies. Understanding...

Read more about Law and Crisis Management: Working with Lawyers in Business, Government, and Society to Manage the Challenges of COVID-19
2020 Jun 03

The Role of Opposition and Alternative Policy for South Africa's Economic Recovery

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Virtual Event - Details Below

The need for rapid and restrictive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic means that democratic institutions must adapt to find new ways of scrutinizing policy and ensuring transparency around data-driven responses to the virus and its economic impact. The South African government faces a significant challenge in protecting livelihoods and reviving the economy while containing the spread of the virus. South Africa's largest opposition party, the...

Read more about The Role of Opposition and Alternative Policy for South Africa's Economic Recovery
2020 Jun 09

Elections, Democracy, and Covid-19 in West Africa

8:30am to 9:30am

Location: 

Virtual Event - Details Below

The Covid-19 pandemic poses a significant challenge for African elections. As countries continue to practice social distancing, the realities of containing community spread of the disease present numerous hurdles to the traditional voting process. West African governments—similar to global counterparts, including the United States—will have to weigh the tradeoffs between public safety and democratic imperatives. Leaders who decide to hold planned elections risk hastening the virus’s transmission. On the other hand, the Covid-19 outbreak presents an opportunity for leaders to...

Read more about Elections, Democracy, and Covid-19 in West Africa
2020 Jun 10

Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series: Race to a Vaccine

10:00am to 11:00am

Location: 

Virtual Event - Details Below

June 10 – Race to a Vaccine

In addition to the scientific angle (where are we at in development and how are African institutions a partner or leader in this effort), this webinar will explore questions of affordability and equity to access (who gets a vaccine and when?). This panel would also naturally continue the conversation about misinformation.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • ...
Read more about Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series: Race to a Vaccine
2020 Jun 17

Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series: COVID-19 and the Work Force in Africa

10:00am to 11:00am

Location: 

Virtual Event - Details Below

June 17 – COVID-19 and the Work Force in Africa

COVID-19 simultaneously presents a global pandemic and an economic recession; healthcare related decisions will impact the economy, and lack of economic security will have healthcare related outcomes. How are companies and their employees impacted by lockdown, quarantine, and social distancing? Despite a growing digital economy, the sector remains small, and only a limited percentage of work can be done virtually. What is the impact to employers and employees? What will be the impact on households...

Read more about Africa and COVID-19 Webinar Series: COVID-19 and the Work Force in Africa

Resources From Across Harvard University