July 4, 2020
COVID-19 updates: learning from lockdown in Mozambique

From the article: "As the COVID-19 virus has spread across the globe, developing countries are starting to enact many of the same policies used in China, Europe and North America to contain the virus. But are these policies appropriate in low income contexts? To help think about this we propose a simple index of lockdown readiness which identifies the share of households that could feasibly shelter at home for a prolonged period of time.

Using Mozambique as a case study, our lockdown readiness index suggests a need for more inventive adaptation of public health policies, not blind adoption from elsewhere.

Many countries have introduced lockdown measures, including home isolation, as a response to the global pandemic. Such policies were originally adopted by China and, over the past months, have been replicated by governments in the global North.

The aim of home isolation is to maintain a maximum of social distancing to reduce contacts with non-family members to an absolute minimum. But this assumes families actually can stay isolated with relative ease. In the global North, for example, an underlying assumption is that many people can work remotely via the internet and phone.

But what are the conditions that make it feasible to shelter at home? Applying the index to Mozambique our main takeaway is that a strict or full lockdown would be very difficult for a large share of households in Mozambique, including those in urban areas. It is not only that household conditions are often unsuited to a lockdown. Many people simply could not afford to stay at home.

Without a broad-based safety net in place, which could temporarily substitute for lost income opportunities or put enough food on the table, a strict lockdown could quickly degenerate into social unrest."

Article reference: Jones, S. Egger, E. Santos, R. 2020. The five criteria low income countries must have in place for lockdowns to work. The Conversation.