Telling the story of Covid-19 in Africa: A basket of ideas

Updated on May 13, 2020.

This is a running list of story ideas on Covid-19. You are welcome to contribute ideas in the comments section, through ACME’s social pages or by writing to us at

Agriculture and food 

What local innovations have emerged from the agricultural community to manage supply chain disruptions?

How has the decline in international prices for major food commodities affected your country’s major traders? What commodities are most affected? Has the impact of this decline trickled down to rural markets?

How have current or predicted food crises in your country been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic?

What is the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities working in the informal agricultural sector?

What programmes, if any, are in place to address urgent concerns for the nutritional status of children in families that rely on school feeding programmes or humanitarian donations to fill food gaps?

How are households dependent on food production and livestock rearing managing disruptions in the supply chain of agricultural inputs and the inability to access livestock markets?

Have nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists been affected by border closures? How are your government and local authorities working with these communities to ensure that livestock migration routes are not blocked or severely interrupted?

Have food safety measures moved up the policy priority list in your country because of Covid-19? What policy conversations are taking place about this in government, civil society and communities to prevent food loss?

Whose food security and livelihoods are most at risk due to the pandemic?

What has been done to ensure consistent supply and sale of staple foods and nutritious foods during containment periods?

How have curfews, lockdowns and public transport bans affected smallholder farmers?

How has the pandemic increased the vulnerability of farming communities in countries affected by recent locust invasions, and irregular off-season rainfall and floods? What post-pandemic recovery efforts are in place to support these communities?

What non-perishable goods are in high demand in cities and rural centres at this time? Have prices gone up for non-perishable foodstuffs like maize, millet and cassava flour, dry beans and peas, groundnuts and simsim?  Are food suppliers able to meet the rising demand?

What emergency food relief distribution systems been set up in the country to feed vulnerable communities? What are these systems, who is managing them and are they serving the intended purpose? What are the opportunities for food distributors to participate in these relief efforts? What are the challenges in accessing food relief?

How have COVID-19 prevention measures affected the supply of seeds, veterinary medicines, fertilisers and insecticides? What are domestic and international suppliers of agricultural inputs doing to ensure limited interruptions to their delivery systems?

What are the consequences of border closures on agricultural exports and imports for both small-scale and major traders? Have prices of agricultural products been affected by this?


Economy and finance

How is your country preparing itself for a potential recession occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic? What impact models are informing policy to address the economic downturn?

How is Covid-19 impacting the solvency of big business in your country? Has this led to significant company restructuring and if so, to what effect?

What legislation has been discussed or enacted to assist businesses to survive the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic? What is the nature of these legislative measures? What is the business community doing to lobby for temporary measures that address debt recovery, insolvency and other concerns?

Do small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs in the informal economy have access to credit necessary to keep their businesses afloat? On what terms is this credit available and are these terms within the reach of micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses?

Has your government planned for the provision of economic stimuli to informal economy operators who make up significant proportions of your country’s national GDP? Are informal economy associations or member-based organisations involved in the design and deployment of these strategies?

How has the decline prices of globally-traded commodities like oil, gas, minerals and food impacted your economy? What is being done to provide buffers or support to shore your country against these price shocks?

How is your country participating in regional and continental measures to address the economic challenges presented by Covid-19?

Who is providing financing to address the economic and fiscal impact of Covid-19?

As parliaments across the country approve supplementary budgets and governments obtain new funding, are they transparent on how this money is being utilised? Who is in charge of managing these funds? Are transparency and accountability standards in regards to the use of public resources being upheld?

Has your country’s monetary policy changed to deal with the economic slowdown? What fiscal policy adjustments are under consideration?

What is your country doing to prevent a recession, or worse, a depression?

What are the challenges of are small and medium enterprises during the containment period?

How are offline-driven businesses using the closures to adjust their operations by shifting online? Are employees undergoing training to manage business online? What types of businesses are doing this and to what effect? What are the needs or challenges of moving a business online?

What business opportunities has the Covid-19 pandemic created in your country? How have they been exploited? Who is exploiting them?

What is the impact of closures on manufacturing? Have supply disruptions led to a decrease in the availability of manufactured goods produced in-country or imported goods? What is the net worth of these disruptions in the manufacturing sector? Factory deadlines

What measures have governments and revenue authorities put in place to mitigate tax hardships on the business community?

How have the mining and petroleum sectors been affected by the slow-down in business? Which countries are hardest hit by a lack of buyers? How has the decline in commodity prices affected mining and petroleum operations?

Has there been an increased demand for water and electricity as a result of the wash-your-hands campaign? How are the utility companies managing this increased demand, or pleas to lower charges?

The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is set to start in July 2020. How are negotiations of Africa’s first continent-wide trade agreement affected by Covid-19? What are its prospects in enabling economic recovery and boosting investment in the continent after Covid-19?

Are businesses and individuals insured for any Covid-19 impact? Covid-19 is a new disease and is not specifically listed in existing insurance contracts, but is there room for insurance cover for business interruption, product losses or personal life? How are insurance companies responding to this matter?



What challenges are educators in your country are facing in adapting curricula to online and remote learning formats?

In what manner is technical and vocational education and training occurring during the pandemic? What are the challenges faced and what lessons have been learned?

If educational institutions in your country have moved to online learning, are instructors trained and prepared to deliver classes? Do instructors have access to the internet online platforms?

What is your country’s strategy on administering high stakes examinations and assessments? What new approaches to exams and learning assessment are being considered?

How are the free education resources provided by your government, schools and NGOs being used or adapted by families? What are the challenges in accessing and using these resources?

What are public and private schools doing or not doing to support ‘remote’ student learning?

What are the challenges of parents with limited education and resources in facilitating the learning of their children at home? Is there any support from the education ministry, schools or civil society organisations?

How are students coping with school closures?

What communities exist online and offline to support teachers, parents and school workers? What information is being shared in these communities and how is it being used?

What tools are available to parents with learning difficulties?

How are institutions of higher education using distance learning options? What challenges exist in implementing distance learning and how are universities and colleges responding to the needs of their students and teaching staff?

What is the fate of school support staff? Are they still on the payroll? Have they received any assistance from government or school managers?



What concerns are driving your country’s strategy to emerge from current lockdown measures? What is being done to minimise the risk of contagion posed by reopening? Are the reopening strategies driven by data, political strategy, citizen pressure or other factors?

What peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts have been curtailed due to the pandemic? Who has been affected by the lack of protection provided by international peacekeeping forces and national security troops?

Are historically marginalised and underrepresented groups included in your country’s COVID-19 strategies? How is this being done? Who is missing from the table? Who has been ignored?

Who is monitoring the management of humanitarian and financial assistance given to your country to support its coronavirus containment response? What is your government doing to ensure transparency in the use of this assistance? What accountability loopholes exist  that may fuel abuse of the assistance?

What is being done to address the digital divide in your country if the lockdown has moved education, work and public information online? What are the debates about accessibility and affordability of internet access? How is the private sector and government responding to this?

How have ‘stay at home’ or ‘shelter in place’ directives’ affected the hearing and disposal of cases?

How have partial or full lockdowns affected the execution of court orders?

What is impact has the ban on the use of public transport had on access to court for vulnerable and indigent persons?

What is being done to stop corruption among law enforcement officers, government personnel or political appointees charged with the responsibility of delivering services at this time? If corruption in administering containment measures exists, what nature does it take and who is behind it?

What key government activities have been suspended or postponed because of the pandemic? How has this affected government responsibilities like legislation, conducting elections, censuses, etc?

How are communities in hard-to-reach areas accessing information on COVID-19? What is the government doing to ensure access to information?

How has the outbreak of coronavirus impacted government transparency? Has it led to an increased flow of information or a decline in accountability? How have citizens’ perceptions of their government and elected leaders changed due to this?

How are local government authorities adapting new government public health regulations to contain the spread of COVID-19 in their constituencies?

What are government offices, which do not currently have online options, managing their duties? Have any disruptions in service been experienced and to what effect?

How has the judicial system responded to COVID-19? What do any new changes mean for citizens’ access to justice?

So far how much money has been spent on the COVID-19 response in your country? What exactly is the money being spent on? What is taking the lion’s share of expenditure?

How much has been received in donations towards the COVID-19 response? Who are the donors?

How has social distancing affected government business at the central and local government level?

What does the pandemic reveal about the strengths or weaknesses of your country’s social protection systems?

What measures are in place to protect people in detention facilities from a coronavirus outbreak? In the event of an outbreak in a detention facility, what systems are in place for treatment and control? Are there plans to depopulate detention facilities at this time?

In instituting preventative measures, are governments ensuring that the rights of citizens are protected? What are the risks or realities of government overreach and overregulation? How have they led to human rights violations?

How has the public reacted to government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19?

How may your government be using its COVID-19 response to civil liberties, silence the media or consolidate power? What evidence of this exists? Who is abusing their power? Who is most affected?



What are researchers learning about the nature, transmission of the novel coronavirus? How is your country adapting its containment, care and treatment strategies to address these findings?

Has your country increased its funding of scientific research during this time? Is the government seeking funding outside the country and to what end?

What conversations or debates are taking place within the scientific community in your country about the nature and value of research?

Have the results of clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in your country been published in an open and transparent manner? Is the development of drugs to treat Covid-19 collaborative? Has data been made available for scrutiny?

Has the emergence of the novel coronavirus led to pharmaceutical innovation in your country? Who is at the forefront of research, discovery and development of medical products to control the pandemic? Are there mechanisms to fund or incentivise pharmaceutical innovation?

Who is involved in local production to make pharmaceutical products and personal protective equipment in your country? Are the local products cheaper than imported equivalents? Is their quality comparable to that of originator products?

Are the customs regulations in your country providing the necessary controls to monitor the quality of health products imported to curb the spread of the coronavirus and to treat Covid-19?

What changes have been made to the tax code to minimise disruptions to the supply of pharmaceuticals?

What are the barriers to mass testing for Covid-19 in your country? If mass testing is not an option, how effective is the targeted testing?

Does your country have access to the international diagnostics market and the financial capacity to acquire the necessary testing kits and reagents? What is your country doing to lobby for access in an increasingly protectionist environment?

Is your government transparent on the procurement of lifesaving medicines and medical supplies? What is being done to make contracts open and to share procurement and price information?

How is African research and innovation on other critical health challenges being used to address the study and treatment of Covid-19?

What health justice mechanisms have been incorporated into your country’s Covid-19 response systems to limit inequitable health outcomes? Have health disparities increased or reduced as a result of the pandemic?

What models have informed the public health measures adopted by your country to address the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the limitations of this modelling? How have the models changed over time as they are applied to real-life data?

Are HIV prevention activities continuing during the containment period? What measures are being taken to ensure the safety of volunteers, healthcare workers and clients during the delivery of prevention services?

What is being done to ensure that people living with HIV who are on treatment have access to a sufficient supply of ARVs? What are the challenges in delivering treatment? What innovations have been made to deliver multi-month prescriptions or refills to people living with HIV?

Are the rights of patients being treated for COVID-19 being protected? How may fear of the spread of the pandemic be fuelling the abuse of patients’ rights? Who is advocating for patients?

What clinical management of COVID-19 patients is your country implementing? How successful are its treatment protocols? What challenges are doctors and nurses experiencing in treating COVID_19 patients?

What is happening behind the walls of the institutional quarantine areas?

What happens after a person recovers from COVI-19? How long are people still at risk of transmitting the virus? What does the science say about this or what is still unknown?

What support exists for people with mental health disorders? How are healthcare workers prepared for a predicted spike in mental illness during the containment period?

Do the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach have access to free or affordable testing and care? Which communities are most at risk because of limited access to treatment?

Does your country have systems in place to ensure continued access to family planning, antenatal and post natal care, skilled delivery attendance and treatment of sexually transmitted infections?

How have voluntary blood donations been affected by COVID-19? What are blood donation organisations doing to ensure steady supplies at this time?

What role are the lesser recognised medical professionals like pharmacists, laboratory technicians, EMTs and respiratory therapists playing in COVID-19 containment? What has been done to ensure their occupational safety?

Have health and epidemiological systems in your country been recapitalised to deal with COVID-19? Where have the resources to do this come from have and what impact has any resource reallocation had on other sectors?

Will the disruption of international trade affect the supply of essential medicines, medical sundries and equipment in your country? How?  What systems have been put in place by pharmaceutical boards and pharmaceutical authorities to ensure stable distribution of essential supplies?

Where healthcare systems are stretched by efforts to contain COVID-19 outbreaks, what care responsibilities are being placed on women and girls who usually bear the responsibility for caring for sick family members? How are these women and girls impacted by this increased ‘burden’? What support exists for them?

In early March, several governments announced restrictions on exports of medical products and ingredients. This means that the delivery of paracetamol, some antibiotics and generic medicines from the largest suppliers of these goods to Africa is interrupted. Has your country already begun to suffer because of this? What contingency plan exists to plug the hole created by reduced imports?

How has COVID-19 changed or shaped public sector messaging about hygiene and nutrition? What is the response of citizens across the country to this new messaging?

Has the closure of higher learning institutions had an impact on the support student-doctors and nurses offer support hospitals? Many students provide much-needed support by conducting patient observations, allocating beds and administering medication, etc. Has this led to increased pressure and demands on hospital staff? Are tutors from the closed institutions stepping in to support hospital staff? How?

What measures have been instituted to reduce the risk of infection by healthcare workers in hospitals across the country? How prepared for the COVID-19 are health workers?

How are the COVID-19 call centres coping?

How exactly does the institutional quarantine system work? What goes on in the places where suspected cases or those returning from high risk countries are quarantined? What measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of infection by healthcare workers taking care of people in quarantine?

There have been reports of bribery at airports and other entry points perpetuated by those who  did not want their relatives or themselves to be quarantined. How exactly did this happen? Which powerful government officials or even private citizens were involved?

What is the capacity [ICU beds, etc] of national and regional referral hospitals and others that are being prepared for the COVID-19 response?

How are regional referral hospitals and private hospitals preparing for a probable wide-scale outbreak of COVID-19? What contingency plans are in place to support clinical services?

What contingency plans are in place in the likely event that hospitals are flooded with COVID-19 patients? What do health workers and experts make of all these plans?

With resources focused on preventing and containing coronavirus, how are countries prepared for existing and future disease outbreaks? Has COVID-19 exacerbated the existing disease burden?

What has COVID-19 revealed about the strengths or weaknesses of the health care system in the country?

Where are global efforts towards finding a treatment or vaccine?

How does the coronavirus test work?



What skilled workers have experienced a drop in the demand for their services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?

What are the prospects for temporary and itinerant workers during the containment period? How are governments responding to a lack of social and economic protections for these people?

What are the general health and safety obligations of employers in your country? What is being done to ensure employers are complying with government regulations to protect their employees?

With labour externalisation services suspended for most countries, what support exists for people employed through labour externalisation companies? What help, if any, do they have from your country’s diplomatic stations?

What sectors are most affected by mobility and work disruptions? Education, tourism, entertainment, hospitality, electronics, luxury goods? What impact has this had on the labour force employed by these sectors? What does it mean for investment and expansion plans?



Has the pandemic affected the delivery of humanitarian assistance to your country? Are resources intended for assistance being diverted to support COVID-19 efforts and with what outcomes?

What has COVID-19 revealed about the social and economic inequalities in your country?  How are government and non-government actors responding to the realities presented?

Has the care and support for survivors of gender-based violence been disrupted by the pandemic? What risks does this pose for vulnerable people, particularly women and girls?

How are coronavirus prevention measures being implemented in communities that live in water-stressed environments? Are there any government or non-governmental organisations are working to supply safe, clean water at this time?

What are the gender dimensions of COVID-19? How have women been affected by the containment period, school closures and the economic slowdown?

Have people with disabilities been adequately catered for in this containment period? Do they have access to information through the media, community and government channels that is appropriate for them? What supportive measures are in place from government, civil society and community-based organisations for the people with disabilities?

There is a fear that refugee settlements are most likely to be hard hit by COVID-19 due to a lack of essential services like medical care and potable water sources. How have host-countries prepared for this likelihood?

How are containment protocols being implemented in densely populated refugee camps and settlement areas?

How have border closures affected the economic and social life of border communities?

How is your government addressing the needs of people living in informal settlements? Is it still providing other services to prevent, detect and treat diseases in these communities?



Who are the ‘silent heroes’ in your country’s coronavirus fight? Who is at the forefront of public communications, health sector responses or community efforts to address COVID-19? Profile as many as you can.

What is it like to be a front line physician treating COVID-19 patients?

What social innovations have been developed (or are in the works) to help the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic?

How are the people who tested positive coping with hospitalisation and treatment?

What is COVID-19 like through the eyes of these patients/and or their relatives and caregivers?

What is COVID-19 like through the eyes of suspected cases that tested negative?

What is COVID-19 like through the eyes of patients who have recovered?

What personal safety measures are COVID-19 are leaders in the country taking?


Public works and infrastructure

What major infrastructure projects have been affected by closures and the economic slowdown? What key milestone dates may be missed? What strategies are in place to ensure financial and human resources are intact to complete these projects in a timely manner in the future?

How will large infrastructure projects financed by Chinese financial institutions or implemented by Chinese companies be affected by COVID-19?



To what extent are religious institutions and faith leaders providing psycho-social and humanitarian care to their communities? What is the nature of this support?

Has the outbreak of Covid-19 led to a rise or the reemergence of religious extremism in your country? If so, what is the nature of the extremism/fanaticism and what impact has it had on affected communities?

How are faith communities in your country responding to the pandemic?

How have containment measures changed faith-driven service and charity in your country?

Is access to sacred spaces, shrines and other places of African traditional worship restricted? How are adherents of traditional worship adapting to these measures?

Has Covid-19 narrowed or widened the gap between science and religion in your country? What debates are surrounding this ‘clash of ideas’?

How are faith leaders in your country providing support to perform religious sacraments and rituals for communities and persons in need? Do lockdown and containment measures allow them to continue in this service? If not, what are they doing to meet people’s needs?

What pastoral care are faith leaders able to provide at this time and how are they doing this?

Are there any faith leaders playing a pivotal role – positive or negative – in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus and to what effect?

What role are faith-based organisations playing during the pandemic?

What does worship look like around your country during the pandemic?


Sports, arts and entertainment

What plans do sports leagues in your country have to reopen after Covid-19?

Are there any relief programmes in your country to support players in need due to the shutdown of sports activities?

How has Covid-19 changed people’s physical activity and exercise habits?

How much revenue has been lost due to the cancellation of music concerts, arts events and sports activities? What strategies are being developed to recover this revenue in the future?

What are sportspeople doing during the containment period? What are clubs and managers doing to minimise harm to players, particularly for contact sports?

How are people engaged in performing arts handling the shut-down of their activities? Who is most affected?

How are sports and entertainment ‘celebrities’ using their platforms to educate and inform the public about Covid-19 prevention methods? Who is leading the charge and to what effect?

What are artists are using online tools to remain connected to their audiences at this time? Are any of them monetising these channels?



What will Sub-Saharan Africa look like after Covid-19?

How have different African countries responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?



Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]


  1. My story ideas is under Education and specifically looking at conservation Conservation Education of wildlife since Covid-19 is much related to wildlife fauna

    How best can the masses get educated about the dangers of Bush meat because they are quite many and not known.

  2. Another question to interrogate should be how single parents out of employment are now fending for their families during this pandemic

    What guarantee protocols should be interrogated to protect workers jobs

  3. In my view a human rights based approach that advocates for the respect and promotion of human rights in addressing the Corona pandemic should have been applied by State actors as opposed to having the presidency direct all interventions in addressing the pandemic as we see it. The principles of participation, accountability,non discrimination, empowerment and the rule of law would make more impact and avoid the current operation hiccups they are facing in addressing the pandemic.
    State actors as duty bearers should be able to respect, protect and fulfill human rights through the application of a human rights based approach while citizens as rights holders should be empowered to know their rights and responsibilities during such a pandemic and also hold duty bearers accountable.

  4. Education systems should focus more on issues on society health and discipline.
    learning that washing hands is important, obeying lawful orders, keeping good domestic hygiene, working on relationships in communities, civic responsibilities. these have been critical under COVID 19 success stories. learners should be shown how to appreciate the environment and not destroy it. Now we have cleaner air, no pollutants, no noise..

  5. Am so much worried how people are going to survive, in case the lock down continues. We have people who survive on hand to mouth and currently are not working, how are families going to survive?
    We have got a challenge of violence in most homes, because some parents are no longer working and are not able to sustain their home.
    Due to lock down and no means of transport and lack of good diet, HIV/AIDS patients have defaulted ARVs.

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