What we’re reading on governance & conflict – Covid-19 edition, 17 April

This week’s edition is entirely down to my colleague, Alisha Patel, along with other DFID colleagues, as I’ve been trying to be ‘on holiday’ this week with my family.

As always, DFID Research & Evidence Divison-funded research teams designated with a 🌟, and a running list of useful sites to bookmark at the bottom.

Threads/News/Blogs/Thought pieces/Research

Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Mapping Risk Factors for the Spread of Covid-19 in Africa

This piece uses readily available and wide ranging data to assess the risk of external and community transmission of Covid-19.

Albert van Zyl, Covid advocacy in South Africa’s shanty towns – what works?

How to combat Covid-19 in crowded informal settlements where people share bathrooms and toilets? In 100 informal settlements in Cape Town and other cities, IBP South Africa is working it out on the ground.

BBC, Coronavirus: Why lockdowns may not be the answer in Africa 🌟

Paul Richards and Alex de Waal explain why lockdowns are unlikely successful and why community involvement and a fast response is so essential.

Danish Institute of Security Studies, Mogadishu in the time of Covid-19

What does a response to COVID-19 look like in the absence of functioning public health and welfare systems? Some early insights can be gleaned from Somalia.

Economist, Africa’s debt crisis hampers its fight against Covid-19

The Economist explains how the virus has “thrown petrol onto a slow-burning debt crisis”. Many African governments are facing particularly acute dilemmas on servicing international debt or funding public health systems and the Covid-19 response.

Freedom House, Coronavirus Response Threatens Ethiopia’s Fragile Political Transition

Ethiopia’s emergency declaration could give carte blanche to the government to restrict freedoms in the name of battling coronavirus. Meanwhile, a legitimacy crisis looms, as elections are postponed due to dangers posed by the virus.

Frontier Myanmar, From north to south, ethnic armies confront an unseen enemy 🌟

A great example of how DFID-funded evidence programmes can deliver evidence-informed Covid-19 updates and advice from the hardest to reach places.

Human Rights Watch, Kenya Police Abuses Could Undermine Coronavirus fight and others

Otsieno Namwaya, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch writes about Kenya police abuses and the overly harsh actions by security forces to the pandemic. Also worth checking out this piece on Sri Lanka and the use of the pandemic to curtail free expression and on new legislation in Armenia constraining rights at a time of fragile democratic transition.

ICTD, How can African tax collectors help cope with the economic impacts of Covid-19? 🌟

Great piece from Mick Moore, with links to longer and more detailed studies, of the links between taxation and Covid-19 and some really practical advice on what governments can do to reduce the impact on the most vulnerable.

J-PAL, Increasing adherence to Covid-19 guidelines: Lessons from existing evidence 🌟

So much good stuff from J-PAL, using evidence from RCTs to inform what Covid-19 response measures are likely to stick.

Ken Opalo, Some Policy Lessons from Covid

While you may not agree with all the conclusions drawn, this is a really well written and comprehensive piece that is well worth further consideration and discussion. 

Newsweek, Global coronavirus pandemic creates new paths for militants, rebels and gangs to establish legitimacy

The brilliant open source ACLED conflict data platform launches their Covid-19 Disorder Tracker (CDT) to monitor changes in demonstration activity, state repression, mob attacks, overall rates of armed conflict and more. Definitely worth keeping on top off in the days, weeks and months to come.

Nic Cheeseman and Jeffrey Smith, The pandemic is being used to erode democratic freedoms. Civil society must fight back

An article which helps frame the governance response to Covid-19 in terms of strengthening democratic institutions and processes.

NY Times, As Coronavirus fades away, nationalism and xenophobia flare

Now that the pandemic is raging outside China’s borders, foreigners are being shunned, barred from public spaces and even evicted. This is likely to have significant implications for diplomatic relations.

Project Syndicate, 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 programmes possible.

Social Science in Humanitarian Action, Compliance with Physical Distancing Measures for Covid-19 and Implications for RCCE in Eastern and Southern Africa 🌟

This briefing sets out practical considerations for the formulation of communication strategies and messaging on the subject of physical distancing related to COVID-19, taking into account the numerous challenges regarding implementation and mitigation of harmful effects that exist in the region, and cognisant that distancing may, in some settings, have adverse effects and contribute directly and indirectly to COVID-19 related deaths.

Social Science in Humanitarian Action, Covid-19 in Uganda: How the disease of the radio is the next burden impacting the lives of those on the Uganda-DRC border 🌟

This incredibly sad but powerful piece lucidly demonstrates why multi-disciplinary approaches are so vital in the Covid-19 response. Here, ethnographic research shows how communities use information to understand and respond to Covid-19 realities.

The New Humanitarian, Coronavirus and aid: What we’re watching

If having completed this reading list you’re still wanting more, look no further than the New Humanitarian’s weekly roundup.

The Print, Coronavirus crisis is making it clear who is calling the shots in Pakistan – the military of course

This piece describes the dramatically increased role of the military in calling the shots due to the pandemic.

Think Global Health, Africa and Coronavirus: Will lockdowns work?

More great stuff on the difficult issue of lockdowns – in this case, arguing that African countries should not be afraid of charting their own paths (and with some ideas of how to do so).

UNU Wider, Is Mozambique prepared for a lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic?

While this blog focuses on Mozambique, it also presents its lockdown readiness index which is well worth considering in all country office responses.

Useful sites & twitter threads curating content to follow

 K4D, Covid-19 Resource Hub 🌟

Global Voices, Covid-19: Global voices for a pandemic

ICNL, COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

ECPR Standing Group on Organised Crime, Controcorrente (dedicated Covid-19 blog series)

The Syllabus, The politics of Covid-19 readings 

Various, Crowd-sourced cross-disciplinary coronavirus syllabus

Political Settlements Research Programme, Conflict, development and Covid-19 resources 🌟

IDS, Covid-19: the social science response to the pandemic 🌟

GI-TOC, Covid Crime Watch

Jorge Mantilla (UC-Chicago), Twitter thread curating pieces on Covid-19, conflict and crime

CGD, Coronavirus preparedness & response

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