During the lockdown CSSR researchers have taken up the challenge of contributing to research and public debate around the effects of Covid-19 and appropriate policy responses. Researchers have written a steady stream of online articles (for sites including GroundUp and the Daily Maverick), have contributed to educational materials and are working on academic papers.

Elena Moore published a series of online articles on the effects of Covid-19 on care and money within households. The first article looked specifically at challenges in households where someone receivedn an old age grant. The second article examined the challenges that are faced in multi-generational households headed by women in employment. The third article looked more broadly at the family dynamics and challenges that are arising more broadly in multi-generational household. The series argues that different households will face unique challenges and that government support needs to include a wider range of relief at the household level to cater for the range of challenges that are experienced. Together with PhD student Nonzuzo Mbokazi, Elena wrote an article on how the Covid-19 pandemic will deepen existing glaring racial disparities among children. As children’s access to resources varies dramatically by race, this article looks specifically at the situation of children and informal worker households. In a further article, Elena highlighted how the state’s provision of a R500 supplement to the Child Support Grant per primary caregiver might exacerbate tensions when there are multiple co-caregivers. Despite the welcome relief for many primary caregivers, especially those who have one child — this relief comes with a significant real and social cost when there are multiple children and multiple co-caregivers.

Professor Jeremy Seekings has written a series of online articles on the government’s reforms of social protection. His first piece examined President Ramaphosa’s original announcement (in April) of the planned increases in existing social grants and introduction of a new grant in response to the poverty resulting from the lockdown. Together with Lena Gronbach and Nicoli Nattrass, Jeremy wrote a second article setting out in detail how the new grant can be implemented, learning from the recent Namibian experience in introducing an emergency grant. A third article examined the delay in rolling out the new grant. A fourth article focused on feeding schemes, arguing that the national government had comprehensively failed to feed the poor during the lockdown.

The Adolescent Accelerators Research Hub, headed by Elona Toska, collaborated with Parenting for Lifelong Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other international partners to produce a set of 6 one-page tips for parents on how to cope with the challenges of parenting during the Covid-19 crisis. These ‘COVID-19 Parenting tips’ cover planning one-on-one time, staying positive, creating a daily routine, avoiding bad behaviour, managing stress, and talking about COVID-19. They are being translated into 70 languages.

Guy Lamb - the former director of the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) - published an Op Ed with News24 titled ‘Fear and Policing in the Time of COVID-19’. In this, he discusses the dynamics behind the aggressive and abusive behaviour of some of the South African security forces during the lockdown period. Guy also participated in a number of live radio broadcasts (such as 702 and Channel Afrika) and participated in a live TV interview (ENCA) on crime and policing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

SaVI also manages a prominent web portal on violence prevention in South Africa (in partnership with the Civilian Secretariat for Police). A SaferSpaces newsletter specifically focused on police and violence prevention in relation to the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

Former CSSR researcher Rebecca Hodes published an online article on ‘Bad medicine: the past and present toxic “cures”’.  The former Aids and Society Research Unit researchers submitted abstracts for the forthcoming COVID-19/IAS virtual conference, including work on pictograms to promote public health in the COVID pandemic (see Viral Visuals.pdf) and a cross-national econometric analysis by Nicoli Nattrass of responses to Covid-19.

In addition, former PhD student and post-doc Gabby Kelly wrote an online article on the challenges facing older people. Gabby also participated in the panel for an international webinar on how social protection systems can address the situation of older people during the current crisis.

The first CSSR Working Paper – WP 451 – related to the pandemic is a study completed in late April (by Sydney Johnson, Remy Reya and Julia Ilhardt) of some of the options for social protection reform facing the South African government.