Urban slums in Africa and COVID-19

Published In: African Journal of Health, Safety and Environment
Article Link: https://www.ajhse.org/index.php/ajhse/article/view/120
Author(s): S. K. Alonge and A. Wadinga

Urban slums in Africa and COVID-19
Photo Illustration: Urban slums in Africa and COVID-19
Photo Credit: Creator: FREDRIK LERNERYD | Getty Images

This classic review was written by S. K. Alonge and A. Wadinga both of Social Policy Department, Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, Nigeria. The paper is focused on the possible correlation between Covid-19 and Urban slums in Africa. In the author’s own words; most urban renewal programmes in Africa are conceived as mere urban beautification projects. From Lagos to Dakar, move one or two kilometers away from the city centers and one is faced with filth and squalor that are summed up in two words –urban slums, in which a great majority of city populations reside.

In Nigeria, population living in slums as percentage of urban population is put at 50.2 % in 2014, up from 41.0% in 2007. This highlights the rapid growth of urban slums in Africa with rapid urbanization largely fueled by rural-urban migration.

Incidentally, lessons from COVID-19 indicate that if the trend in the growth of unplanned slum settlements are not checked, they will become the hotspots for pandemic transmission in Africa, as the slum populations are part and parcel of the entire urban population who indeed are key drivers of city activities in terms of labour supply, as well as their engagements in small scale informal business activities in the cities.

In the light of existing knowledge on the potential threat of dense slum settlements to the spread of pandemic, this paper reviews the appropriateness of traditional approach to urban renewal programmes in Africa and makes recommendations for paradigm shift as historical evidences reveal that COVID-19 is neither the first nor the last pandemic.

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