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Disaster Response Feasibility: Poverty and Inequality as Sources of Community Fragility during Covid-19 Lockdown in Zimbabwe

Kwashirai Zvokuomba
Itai Kabonga


Influenza pandemics of Covid-19 in nature are not a new phenomenon in the world today. Amongst many that affected many parts  of the world, the Spanish flue of 1918-1919 was more devastating and is argued to have similar characteristics with Covid -19  outbreak in 2020. The study sought to critically examine how urban communities which already had levels of fragility were affected and responded to the Covid -19. Deploying an ethnographic approach in the high density suburbs of Harare, guided by Giddens  theory of structuration and agency, we argue that due to the already existing level of fragility characterised by high poverty levels, overcrowded accommodation and other fragile systems, Covid-19 lockdown measures worsened the state of communities. Whilst residence of the low density suburbs responded differently to the lockdown, the high density suburbs were characterised by scrambling for water at communal water points, daily queuing for basic food thereby exposing themselves to infections and conflict with law enforcement agents. The paper argues that with the dominance of the informal economy as a source of livelihoods, the lockdown measures compromised not only people's livelihoods but the generic socio-political and economic frameworks. Thus the study concluded that Covid-19 lockdown measures were unbearable and unsustainable such that they forced people to deploy various strategies of survival as 'agency', hence, the lockdown pushed the urban poor into the margins.

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eISSN: 1726-3700
print ISSN: 1012-1080