Every day, global news teems with toppling reports of death from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the underdeveloped countries being ill-prepared, a growing element of fear has emerged towards the future ravaging effects of the pandemic in Africa. Discussing such fear is a topic for another day. However, this article looks at some positive changes we as humans are adapting to and how we are re-imagining our lives due to the pandemic. This is a great time to cast hope or see the light from the gloom that surrounds the COVID-19 narratives. This piece is in no way celebrating this devastating global pandemic. However, it reminisces the thought of the great leader Desmond Tutu who said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
The air and the waters are clearer. France24 reported that “the crowds of tourists who normally swarm the Venice canals are gone and the number of motorboats vastly reduced, the normally polluted waters of the canals are clearer than at any time many locals can remember”. Production has drastically reduced, thereby reducing the amount of CO2 emissions. Satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency have shown a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide pollution in China in the early months of this year. There’s also a drastic reduction in the hydrocarbon emitted from vehicles and motorbikes. Another interesting effect on the environment has been a significant reduction in air travel. In places like Europe, air traffic has taken a serious nosedive. This has significantly improved air quality and reducing pollution in the skies above many countries of the world.
Improve Hygiene Behaviour:
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, people have become more conscious of their physical health. W.H.O expressed that proper handwashing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of the disease. Tremendous improvements in personal hygiene have been recorded shortly after the outbreak. In the case of small public gatherings, people are more inclined to decorum while sneezing. Such strict adherence to covering the nose, reduced handshakes and hugs have also minimised the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens.
Increase in Family Unity:
The global lockdowns have helped in uniting family members. In trying to make ends meet, some members of the family rarely spend enough time at home. The restriction of movement has allowed couples to bond with themselves and their children. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) reports that there’s an increase in domestic violence and child abuse due to the prolonged lockdown, which has adversely increased the stress and abuse among couples. Although the lockdown has some adverse effects, it has created the opportunity to strengthen family ties and rediscover the purpose of family, love and affection for one another.
Self Reflection & Re-evaluation:
It is difficult most times to have a quiet moment to reason and reflect on your personal life because of the daily hustle and bustle. The restrictions from the Government has given us more time to think, more time to rest and renew. Naturally, humans keep on working without stopping or resting adequately. This period has allows you to reflect and to re-evaluate yourself. It is time to reflect on your activities for the past few years, boost your intuition, understand yourself better, tap into your creativity and as a bonus, a spot of mental detoxification. Evaluate what is more important in life, reset your priorities, re-focus on important things, get healed and even broaden your perspectives.
This pandemic has laid bare the fact that African countries should focus on themselves and be self-sufficient. Priority should be given to investment in the health sector, education sector, youth empowerment, supporting media engagements, supporting entrepreneurs and local investors. This is an opportunity for each country to define the new norm on what works for Africa. Compounding this is also the recent economic forecast, which shows the need for an alternative to oil exports as the primary source of revenue generation in oil-rich countries like Nigeria.
The Agricultural sector, for instance, remains a major employer but has suffered years of neglect in developing countries like Nigeria, that spent decades relying on oil. With the recent crash in the oil market, this is the time to invest more in Agriculture and encourage citizens to get involved more in the production of food and goods locally with the right investment and support. If this enthusiasm can be converted into a greater investment, then the country can reduce the high levels of importation.
The inclination to Technology:
The largest hit by the pandemic have been industries without technology dependence besides travel and hospitality. It has led to a common call to action on organisations that need strategising and rebranding to incorporate technology in driving work, services and production processes. Both the academia and the civil service should reconsider opportunities for investing in the right technologies to support remote working and continuous people development using systems such as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).
It is indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worse incidences of the 21st century. Staying positive and facing the current situation is more challenging than ever imagined. In this context, we can learn that “for every loss, there is victory, for every sadness, there is joy, and when you think you’ve lost everything, there is hope”. — Geraldine Solon