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Dealing with Covid-19 in rural Africa: lessons from previous crises

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Steve Wiggins, Roger Calow, Joseph Feyertag, Simon Levine, Alexandra Löwe

This note summarises insights from a study commissioned by DFID, which examines the lessons that can be drawn from previous crises to inform responses to Covid-19 in rural Africa.

Most of the evidence comes from a review of seven viral health crises: HIV/AIDS; H5N1 (avian influenza); Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS); H1N1 (swine flu); Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Covid-19 in China. Two economic shocks were also considered: the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2007/2008 food price spike.

It addresses two main questions: 

  1. What might the consequences be of disease, and responses to it, on agriculture, rural livelihoods, food systems and food security?
  2. What lessons on dealing with those consequences can be drawn from previous crises?

This publication is part of ODI’s series on coronavirus. It showcases emerging ideas and rapid initial analysis from ODI experts.

Steve Wiggins, Roger Calow, Joseph Feyertag, Simon Levine and Alexandra Löwe