After spending two months in Senegal, I have witnessed the growing number of covid cases and the simultaneous stagnance in social change: masks are rarely worn, social distancing is not really enforced, and despite the free vaccine availability, the majority of the population remains unvaccinated.
While my research focused on the impact of the pandemic on the political and economic development sectors in Senegal, the social response to the pandemic remains one of the most important factors to consider. In my research, I questioned the importance of culture and community amongst the pandemic because Senegal prides itself on being a very culturally and religiously oriented country.
Covid has been Costly, something Senegal has not been able to afford before and after the pandemic.
Covid Tests were originally price at 45,000 XOF, which translates to roughly $80 per test. Ths price is about 1.2 of the average salary in senegal, meaning if one were to get tested for COVID-19, they would need half of their monthly earnings on hand to pay for a singular test. Fortunately, the price of COVID testing has diminished to about $20 each, which is still costly for many families but indicates some improvement.
The pandemic has significantly changed the outlook of the country’s economy, states the World Bank.
Specifically, tourism, transport, and export services have faced a decline in economic growth despite a number of containment measures and relief programs instated by the state. The World Bank also claims that economic recovery will likely be due to private enterprises and investment, meaning other job secotrs such as tourism, transport, and exportation of resources, three of the biggest economic influencers and heavily employed services, will continue to face a challenge.
In my research, I found that despite Senegal’s amazing efforts to develop infrastructurallty through private business, diversifying their economy, and globalization, the pandemic has definitelyexposed the need for better communication between those above and those below. It is too frequent that miscommunication or lack of trust between media or politics and citizens occurs leading to, in this case, unfortunate circumstances such as overflooded hospitals, untreatable patients, and death.
Costs aside, Senegal has been able to provide free vaccinations to anyone looking to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, that population number is extremely low.
I had to consistently ask myself how things could be better received by the people of Senegal in relation to the pandemic. Is the overwhelming amount of distrust in the vaccine as well as the disobedience to covid restrictions and safety precautions justified? How much more could be done for this virus to be taken more seriously?
Another important point to have considered throughout the research, was that even in global north cities, that are not undergoing massive transitions from being “developing” to becoming “developed,” similar situations arose. The anti-vax population in the United States for example is extensive, many refused to and continued to refuse mask-wearing throughout the entirety of the pandemic, and hospitals were overstaffed and overworked trying to maintain as little deaths as possible. Thus, is the question of the impact of the virus truly reflective of a country’s status of development? It’s hard to say given that Africa had overall the least number of covid cases, but it is worth considering similar social responses that took place across the globe and what that might say about the scope of unprecedented disasters as a whole.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed taking on many different avenues in this research project. I got to explore more about my concentration on West African Urbanity from an angle that is definitely undrresearched (in this case, COVID was clearly unprecedented so it makes sense that research is limited). I look forward to reading more on the rest of everyone’s research as well as hearing your presentations in the Spring!