COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa: Impacts on land, governance, and livelihoods


This paper focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihoods, land access and governance in rural and peri-urban selected areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Crises are usually expected to be worse for citizens in developing countries since most of their economic activities are in the informal sector, and access to the social protection programs is often limited and exclusionary. Those vulnerable and marginalized are often those who are hit the hardest and who struggle the most to recover after crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Extended lockdowns have put livelihoods under stress, underlying patterns of fragile livelihoods and inequality. There are also particular vulnerabilities with regards to land access and livelihoods of vulnerable populations. Our case studies document how the pandemic has affected livelihoods through several mechanisms relating to land access, including distress sales due to economic hardships and exacerbating land conflicts due to increased pressure on land and increasing trends of urban-to-rural migration. We reflect on how households act and react when faced with shocks and how this affects not only their current access to livelihood assets but might undermine their options for the future. In addition, a range of other effects were identified in our case studies that we expect to negatively impact livelihood recovery.

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