COVID-19 CAN provide an opportunity for African governments to strengthen the way they govern and foster greater unity in the region according to a leading United Nations official.
Stan Nkwain, the Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Service Center for Africa was speaking after the publication of a report by the African Union and the UNDP called The Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Governance, Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa.
The report identifies several emerging impacts of COVID-19 in the region such as delayed electoral processes and political reforms, weakened service delivery, increased poverty, and a likely increase in regional insecurity.
With at least 28 million people experiencing food insecurity before the pandemic, COVID-19 is expected to deepen food insecurity by at least 19 percent in the region.
Extremist groups such as Al Shabaab have exploited the pandemic by using misinformation and to provide basic services in affected areas further challenging governance and stability.
The impact of COVID-19 on women and young girls was also highlighted as a key area for gender-relevant intervention. Women make up 70 percent of global frontline health workers and most informal traders in Africa are women.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the report concludes with renewed hope and opportunities for African governments, regional institutions, civil society and citizens to support grassroots solutions for conflict prevention, strengthen collective fundraising and explore the potential for intra-African trade among other innovative solutions.
Following the publication of the report Stan Nkwain, the Director of the UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa said: “COVID-19 presents an opportunity to strengthen governance structures, solidify unity in the region, and lay the foundation for governments to balance the need for addressing the prevailing health crisis with the renewal of social contracts between governments and the governed.”