Health and economic imperatives for households in the context of the anti-Covid-19 strategy in Cameroon - The case of Yaounde
Authors: Ndi, H., Ndi, R., Bang, H., Mbah, M. and Ndzo, J.
Journal: Journal of Humanities and Applied Social SciencesAbstract:
This paper explores the responses of households in the informal economic sector to the Cameroon government strategy against Covid-19 in Yaounde, Cameroon between March and May 2020.
Given the recency of Covid-19, the exploratory design was employed to collect and analyse information for the study. Empirical data was obtained through personal observations and questionnaires, whereas grey data was sourced from official sources in government and international agencies in Yaounde. The mode of the ordinal data generated from the questionnaire was used to characterise the attitudes of respondents to quarantine measures and bar charts were used to illustrate the distribution of responses.
The governmentâ€TMs strategy against Covid-19 was largely ignored in Yaounde between March and May 2020 because of the influence of the predominantly informal economy on householdâ€TMs ability to allocate scarce resources between the competing needs of protecting their health on the one hand, and their livelihoods on the other hand. Poor households had to walk a difficult line between shutting down their businesses to protect their health or risking Covid-19 infections to protect their livelihoods. Over 53.1% of respondents thought quarantine measures were unsuccessful as over 63% ignored them. Quarantining and Social distancing were also difficult in informal settlements because of structural congestion.
Perhaps, the greatest limitation of this study was the use of non-probability sampling. As such, sampling error could not be estimated, blurring the ability to ascertain the degree of similarity between the sample and the study population. This made sample generalisability difficult.
There are short-term and long-term policy implications of these findings. Basic comprehensive measures including food and water distribution, as well as rents holidays must be implemented in informal neighbourhoods to ensure more successful quarantines in future pandemics. In the long- run, investments in urban social housing must be carried out to reduce slums, an ever-present risk factor in the rapid propagation of infectionsThe originality of this study is firstly, in its level of analysis which is the household. By measuring household responses to quarantine measures within defined neighbourhoods, the study deviates from most that have adopted a theoretical approach and conducted analysis at country or regional levels. Few studies have attempted to investigate the failure of quarantine measures against Covid- 19 from the viewpoint of the occupational characteristics of the populations involved.