From Unilateral Response to Coordinated Action: How Can Mobility Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa Adapt to the Public-Health Challenges of COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged public health and migration management infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa, like elsewhere, as never before. While many countries in the region had experience dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, including Ebola and yellow fever, the nature of transmission under COVID-19, among other factors, forced governments to reassess many of their public-health strategies and adopt strict guidelines to prevent pushing fragile and over-burdened health-care systems over the edge.
However, border closures and other mobility restrictions brought unintended consequences, including stranding large numbers of people, imperiling the supply of essential goods and services, and cutting off income for border communities and prospective migrants. In addition, unilateral containment and mitigation policies prevented a coordinated approach to both public health and migration management.
The policy brief examines the different strategies employed by governments in sub-Saharan Africa during the first year of the pandemic, and the limitations of unilateral action. It offers recommendations on how states and the international community can work together to restart migration and mobility and, looking forward, build capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.
2 Understanding the Challenges COVID-19 Poses for Mobility Systems
3 How Have Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa Adapted Their Mobility Systems?
A. Predeparture Interventions
B. Interventions at the Border
C. Post-Entry Interventions
4 What Role Can Cooperation on Mobility and Public Health Play Going Forward?
A. Gaps in Cross-Border Coordination and the Need for Mobility-Competent Responses
B. A Need for Greater Community Engagement and for Migrant Inclusion in Pandemic Plans, Health Care, and Social Protection Systems
5 Conclusion and Recommendations