COVID-19 has led governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to take a number of measures to battle the pandemic. Many of these actions directly related to religious practices such as the cancelation of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, closing down mosques and amending the call to prayer from the usual “hayya alas-salah” or “come to prayer” to “salu fi buyutikum” or “pray in your homes”.
Europeans are incredibly lucky to largely not know what it feels like to fear for their lives due to war and violence. Yet suddenly, communities in Europe share characteristics with people who live in countries with violent conflict: coronavirus makes lives precarious and incomes unstable. It shows what it’s like when public services are underfunded, unreliable and insufficient.
Is Africa defenceless in the face of the corona pandemic? This would appear to be self-evident, as even health care systems far better equipped than those of many African countries are currently on the verge of collapse. Nonetheless, such a conclusion is premature. In part, some African countries are even better prepared for pandemics than Europe and the United States. Nigeria’s success in fighting its 2014 Ebola outbreak illustrates why that is the case and what lessons wealthier countries and the development cooperation community can learn from it.