Facilitating safe rural migration for coronavirus response

A busy busy stop
Kampala’s crowded main bus terminus, 2012

Astrid Haas and I have a new piece out at The Conversation discussing the role that rural migration can play in pandemic response in African countries.  Rural areas often serve as a type of informal safety net in times of crisis, as people leave the cities to return to farming, but many African countries have blocked this avenue because of the risk of spreading the virus.  However, there’s a trade-off here with the risk of hunger, since they also can’t rapidly scale up urban safety nets to provide food to jobless people in cities.

One possible solution is facilitating safe rural migration programs.  What would that look like?

The basic idea is straightforward: help urban residents cover the costs of returning to stay with their extended families in the countryside, provide sanitary supplies to reduce the risk of infection in transit, and scale up health system surveillance to catch and contain potential rural outbreaks early.

Do read the rest of the piece for further reflections on how this might work.