Vol. 22 No. 1
The effects of Covid-19 make it the obvious focus for this edition of DevISSues. The waves of its ferocity have moved between regions. At the same time, countries have taken different postures and strategies (from strict lockdown to ‘it’s just a flu…let’s get back to work’).
As a crisis and a disaster, its effects have varied from others. For example, while the so-called Spanish Flu killed mainly ‘prime aged’ adults, Covid-19 seems to strongly affect the elderly/ people with existing illness and those in urban areas. Yet whether it moves outside these parameters is still not clear. Certainly, the human/labour market effects are very negative for informal and service workers. More positively, front line service people are now being seen more correctly as the indispensable carers they are. It also appears that this health crisis was preceded by new concerns about a global financial meltdown.
These contours are reflected in this edition. For instance, the virus has ISS teaching staff reflecting and dealing with the impacts for our course content / approach to teaching and wondering how classes (and research) must now take place (Hintjens). In terms of active research and informing, we have a cluster of country-based mini projects dealing with local responses to Covid-19 in conflict affected contexts and BLISS (the ISS blog) has a special series on the virus.
Our feature pieces show how virus impacts are adding to other regulatory, local and political factors. For example, Ethiopia, whilst poorly resourced, acted fast and brought in various measures and partners so that the impact is, as yet, low (Shuka et al), amongst this relatively young and largely rural population. On the other hand, for the case of sex workers, isolation measures have had a categorically negative effect on their well-being. Existing preconceptions as to their status have just been underlined by the crisis (Najar).
In contrast, the indigenous of the Amazon have suffered for centuries from the influx of imported diseases, nearly wiping them out many times over (Widmarck & Pegler). Traditional solutions may now not work and isolation makes it hard to know whether this crisis will affect rural areas as in the past. In many of the Amazonian countries, the threat of the virus has simply added to food insecurities, livelihood and governance/political fragilities. In various regions it has helped spur further mining in indigenous areas and an escalation in fires/deforestation (due to reduced monitoring).
We hope that with this DevISSues we inspire more people to take up the call by van Staveren/D’Egidio (staff student dialogue), Salgado, the Amazonian Indigenous and a Network of Dutch Academics (see Widmarck & Pegler) to use this situation to say – ‘we want a different world, one based more on care and sustainable values, production chains, ecological markets, collective debt sharing and growth targets’. Let’s see if and how far we move.
Dr Lee Pegler, Chair, DevISSues Editorial Board