Whose Crisis?: The global COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of communities in Africa

Whose Crisis? is a AHRC-GCRF project. The AHRC – Urgency Grants pilot programme recognising the fast-moving nature of many of the challenges facing low or middle income countries (LMICs). The AHRC has launched this scheme to provide an accelerated funding outlet for urgent arts and humanities research priorities. This project will run for 12 months, from September 2020 to August 2021, with a total funding of £150,000.

We are part of the Sustainable Futures Global

Project Deliverables

This initiative will support interconnectivity, a plurality of perspectives, and a more balanced response to COVID-19, as well as inform related global health issues. The main outputs are the documentations of the experience of COVID-19 at community and household level from communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Within that, digital artefacts will vary from audio narratives to written accounts and stories, to images, performances, songs, and materials brought together in:

1

SFA COVID-19 Global Voices Hub (Digital space)

2

The Collection (Co-curated book)

3

Academic articles & media outputs

4

Regional policy recommendations

Our Project

Although COVID-19 is a health issue, the crisis is far more than a health crisis. It is a social and cultural one that is currently poorly understood and minimally represented in the context of the Global South. The project is an urgent response to a rapidly evolving global pandemic whereby the North is leading — by example and economic pressure — a response to an emergency affecting communities all over the world. The “Whose Crisis?” project aims to co-curate representations and develop understandings of the social and cultural crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and expose unseen and misunderstood aspects of this time. The project will provide critical insights and inform and contribute to more equitable global responses including those related to health, policy, economics, and education.

Immediate cultural production, critical commentary and public policy are being showcased and circulated globally with substantial affect – this may prove to be the most documented pandemic in history. However, the dominant discourses are generated in the Global North, overwhelmingly by a minority of wealthy and powerful authors, reflecting on a crisis that, while impacting the whole world, is experienced in vastly different ways. This project positions our Southern partners centrally as agents of change within the volatile environment of the COVID-19 crisis.

The overarching aim is to amplify the voices of under-represented and under-served communities in Africa to contribute to the understanding of Global Health in a pandemic context. It will be achieved through two main objectives:

  1. To document and communicate the plural and diverse lived experiences of, perspectives on, and responses to, COVID-19 in vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa at a community and household level.
  2. To share perspectives and experiences in participatory and culturally responsive ways to mobilise Northern and Southern expertise, resources and engagement.

This project will mobilise the rapidly evolving COVID-19 expertise within the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) network, and the capacity of partner communities, to create the SFA COVID-19 Global Voices Hub, that curates, consolidates, acknowledges and catalyses experiences, perspectives and responses to the pandemic. This project will create a platform and a pathway for understanding and exchange for societal, health, economic, government and public stakeholders, to inform responsive action. The implications of ignoring cultural perspectives and practices and missing the opportunities to learn from all, will lead to further inequity, misdirected policies, misallocated resources, increased dominance of certain viewpoints and increased ignorance of the plurality of our experiences.

Our Funders

Project Milestones

Project Launch Meeting: August 31st, 2020 (14:00-15:00 GMT+1 | All project team members)

Ethic Application submitted and clearance received

Global Voices Hub launched: Nov 12th, 2020 (during ESRC Festival of Social Sciences) – www.whosecrisis.org

Workshops held: 

  1. Participatory Methods I: November 11th, 2020 (10:00-11:30 GMT | Project Leads, Research Leads, Co-Is & some advisors)
  2. Participatory Methods II: November 17th, 2020 (9:30-11:30 GMT | Research Assistants, Co-Is & some advisors)
  3. Audio and Video capture: November 25th, 2020 (10:00-11:30 GMT | Research Leads, Research Assistants, Research Admins & Digital designers)
  4. Project Management: digitally launched in Dec 2020 (All project team members)

Fieldwork Planning Meeting: January 14th, 2021 (10:00-12:00 GMT | All project team members)

Fieldwork: March 2021

Collaborative Analysis Workshop: April 28th, 2021 (10:00-13:00 GMT+1 | Research leads, Research Assistants, PI, Co-Is & Digital designers)

Project End Meeting: July 30th, 2021 (10:00-11:30 GMT+1 | All project team members)

PI, Co-Is & PM

Mia Perry, School of Education, University of Glasgow (PI)

Jude Robinson, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

Jo Sharp, School of Geography, St Andrew’s University

Zoe Strachan, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow

Nicol Keith, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow

Prof Sola Ajayi, First-Technical University, Ibadan, Nigeria

Vanessa Duclos, School of Education, University of Glasgow (PM)

Advisors

Deepa Pullanikkatil, SFA Co-Director; Abundance, Eswatini
Sizwe Mabaso, University of Eswatini, Eswatini
Molefe Joseph, University of Eswatini, Eswatini
MmaB Modise, University of Botswana, Botswana
Rebecca Lekoko, University of Botswana, Botswana
Tom Ketlogetswe, Thapong Arts Centre, Botswana
Priscilla Achakpa, World Environmental Program, Nigeria
Femi Babatunde, Governor’s Office, Osun State, Nigeria
Olusola Ajibade, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
Helen Todd, Art and Global Health Centre, Malawi
Jonathan Chiwanda, Ministry of Health, Malawi
Boyson Moyo, LUANAR, Malawi
Alex Okot, Apala Widows and Orphanage Centre, Uganda
Reagan Kandole, ECOaction, Uganda
Richard Kagolobya, Makerere University, Uganda
Elson Kambalu, Art House Africa, Malawi
Alasdair Currie, Multiplied by, Scotland

Research Assistants

Stewart Paul, LUANAR, Malawi

Bosco Chikonda, ArtGlo, Malawi

Dane Armstrong, Yebo Gallery, Eswatini

Daniel Abiodun, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Eunice Tofunmi Ajibade, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Ojediran Helen Fiyinfoluwa, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Goitse Mmeko, University of Botswana, Botswana

Tom Ketlogetswe, Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Botswana

Phiona Nophy, Makerere University, Uganda

Jordan Byekwaso, Makerere University, Uganda

Research Administrators

Grace Awosanmi, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Goitse Mmeko, University of Botswana, Botswana

Dora Nyirenda, LUANAR, Malawi

Dalton Otim, Makerere University, Uganda

Thandeka Ndlela, University of Eswatini, Eswatini

We are part of the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network. This network IS an interdisciplinary collective that brings together researchers, practitioners, and communities of practice that acknowledge the situated and complex nature of sustainability. The network aims to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. 

Specifically, the Network includes the participation of researchers (from geography and earth sciences, community and adult education, applied social arts, health sciences, and engineering); third-sector organisations (working with environmental and social sustainability, with arts and cultural practice, and with community engagement in African contexts); and community stake-holders (living and working in areas of focus). Participants currently span Eswatini, Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria, Malawi, and the UK, and the reach of the network continues to expand.

Theories

To discover opportunities in the disparities between ontologies of the global north and the global south inherent in international collaborations and global endeavours

Methods

To address the relationship between social, cultural, and ecological factors in sustainability in Africa through interdisciplinary research initiatives

Impact

To shape and support new opportunities for impact and inquiry that address locally-articulated, socio-ecological challenges

The three-legged stool

SFA is inspired by Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai’s concept of the “Three legged stool”. It is a metaphor for a stable society, with each leg representing sustainable environmental management, democratic governance, and a culture of peace. Each leg must be stable for the stool to stand, meaning the society will not be able to develop if any of the legs are not strong. SFA believes in this holistic approach. We believe that we live in an interconnected world, where we should not just focus on siloed sectoral approach, but work in interdisciplinary teams, looking at the whole picture.

Institutions

Partner Organisations and funding bodies