Covid Watch Africa presents specific social and economic measures taken by different African governments during this ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, these measures include travel restrictions, Civic restrictions, and official governments resources. The platform also provides an overview of the different policies implemented by governments in Africa to tackle the pandemic, a data explorer to understand the evolution of the pandemic over time in all African countries.
COVID Watch Africa was initially developed under JEUNES VERTS Togo’s leadership and launched in April 2020 to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic as a credible alternative information hub on the pandemic in Africa. The platform provides real-time verified information and data on the state of the pandemic in each of the 55 African countries.
In July 2020 a Citizen Watch space, as a tool to collect information and reports from the public, was implemented on the platform with the support of external funders including the DDP. The Citizen Watch space allows users to publish more than 200 reports anonymously and securely on human rights violations and restrictions on civic space in some twenty + countries across the continent. Reports gathered show that the Pandemic has also fueled the brutalities, Human Rights violations and escalated the shrinking civic space margin that African states had formerly been grappling with. Laws, Policies, institutions, and practices that are well known to create an enabling environment for citizen participation have been infringed on, in the guise of protecting states against COVID 19 as witnessed from the reports curated on the platform. A general report based on the submissions to Citizen Watch Platform has been published.
To monitor and document the impact of the pandemic on civil society organizations in Africa, COVID Watch Africa organizes a series of webinars that allows the creation of an inclusive space where various actors of civil society across the continent discuss the impact of the pandemic on their activities and exchange best practices for the adaptation to the pandemic, especially in terms of digital security and digital civil engagement. These organizations have a common interest in working together to pool synergies in addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic. To formalize this collaborative framework, Covid Watch Africa has since been formally registered as a non-profit organization in South Africa in the month of November 2020 with a board of directors and partner organizations divided into 4 regional clusters: East Africa region with organizations from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania. Southern Africa region with organizations in Malawi and South Africa. Central Africa region with organizations from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon. West Africa region with organizations from Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Benin, and Senegal.
In addition to providing information on public policies and continuing monitoring the pandemic’s impact on Human Rights and Civic engagement, COVID Watch Africa is now developing national and regional collaborative advocacy projects with the partner organizations. These projects are mainly focused on responding to the pandemic, in relation to Human Rights violations and Civic space freedoms, with focus on accountability and transparency around the pandemic relief funds received in the various African governments. Among the flagship projects, there are efforts towards accountability in the use COVID-19 relief funds in West Africa and strategic litigation before regional courts in East Africa on Digital Rights violation amidst the pandemic. For these two above projects, we particularly rely on the COVID Watch Africa press corps which was set up in November 2020. These press corps are a diverse set of investigative journalists from media houses throughout the continent who previously worked on a research project to document the innovations from Civil Society actors in Africa in response to the pandemic.