The dangers lockdowns pose across Africa

A new survey suggests nearly 7 in 10 respondents across Africa would have a problem accessing food and water during a two-week quarantine.

More than two-thirds of survey respondents across 20 African nations said they would struggle to access food and water if they were required to self-isolate for 14 days amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report that suggests a spike in cases and widespread stay-at-home orders would hit the continent particularly hard.

The survey – published on Tuesday as part of a broader report from the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19, which is an international partnership led by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Economic Forum and the World Health Organization, among others – found that 69% of more than 20,000 respondents across 20 African nations would have a problem accessing food and water during a two-week quarantine. More than half (51%) say they would run out of money.

The average respondent estimated they would run out of money in 12 days and food in 10, while particularly low-income households would run out of both in less than a week. The findings suggest governments in Africa must walk a particularly fine line between compelling residents to shelter-in-place and promoting enough economic activity to support the lowest-income households.

According to the Africa CDC, more than 49,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed across the continent. More than 1,900 people have died. Experts have noted that the outbreak hasn't been nearly as severe in Africa as it has been in many other parts of the world. The report attributes this development in part to the continent's relatively youthful population, with a more limited number of elderly, high-risk individuals. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 3% of the population is at least 65 years old. That's compared with roughly 20% of the European Union.