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Programme

Pandemic Preparedness: Local and Global Concepts and Practices in Tackling Disease Threats in Africa

start date
2 January 2019
end date
22 January 2023
value
£1,510,554.00

Since the devastating outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014-15, concern about deadly diseases with pandemic potential has grown significantly. As a result, the concept of disease ‘preparedness’ has shot to prominence in global health policy.

However, local people’s understandings of these diseases and their knowledge in preparing for them is often ignored. This research will highlight the importance of local perspectives to disease response which have not been fully recognised and supported in global discourses so far. The project will ask who is being prepared, for what, and by whom?

The research examines ‘preparedness from below’ – the understandings and practices of communities through which they anticipate and manage disease threats on a daily basis. In particular, global and local approaches might offer quite different ways of addressing three key themes which are central to our inquiry:

  • Risk and uncertainty
  • Knowledge and information
  • Agency and authority

Research will be conducted on preparedness at three levels: global, regional, and local, linking to established institutional architectures and practices as well as exploring local level responses to everyday uncertainties.

The local-level fieldwork will be conducted in Sierra Leone and Uganda. It will involve oral histories, participatory research and ethnographic fieldwork conducted in four sites, which will track how people currently understand and deal with health events and threats.

We will track interconnections through interviews with global, regional and national actors – how particular ideas, frameworks, and assumptions travel and flow both ‘upwards’ and ‘downwards’,. We aim to identify entry points and pathways for connecting global, intermediate and local ‘assemblages’ in ways that build on, enhance and support the legitimacy and agency of communities’ ‘preparedness from below’.

Partner organisations include:

People

Image of Annie Wilkinson
Annie Wilkinson

Research Fellow

Image of Catherine Grant
Catherine Grant

Research Officer

Image of Esther Mokuwa
Esther Mokuwa

Visiting Researcher

Image of Hayley MacGregor
Hayley MacGregor

Research Fellow

Image of Kelley Sams
Kelley Sams

Visiting Researcher

Image of Melissa Parker
Melissa Parker

Professor of Medical Anthropology

Grace Akello, Gulu University, Uganda
Paul Richards, Njala University, Sierra Leone
Alice Desclaux, Centre Régional de Recherche et de Formation à la prise en charge de Fann (CRCF, Senegal)
Khoudia Sow, Centre Régional de Recherche et de Formation à la prise en charge de Fann (CRCF, Senegal)
Frederick Martineau, LSHTM

Projects

Project

Epidemic Response Anthropology Platform

The Epidemic Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP) is a resource to support a humane and effective response to epidemics. The aim of the platform is to promote evidence on the social dimensions of epidemics in different contexts and to improve the way this evidence is used in response planning.

Project

Ebola Response Anthropology Platform

Anthropologists from around the world providing advice on how to engage with crucial socio-cultural and political dimensions of the Ebola outbreak and build locally-appropriate interventions.

Recent work

Opinion

Notes from the field: Sierra Leone: working with chiefs and the community

The Pandemic Preparedness project has begun the fieldwork stage with some important developments in our work, starting with building key relationships in the community. This begins with the chiefs. Chiefs make up the bottom level of government in provincial Sierra Leone. Each chiefdom...

Paul Richards & 3 others

30 September 2019

Opinion

Notes from the field: Uganda: Life histories and ethnographic research

The Uganda team for the Pandemic Preparedness project have also begun their fieldwork stage with some exciting developments in their work. The team have begun researching the study site and finding people to participate in the study and seeking their consent. The fieldwork area is a mountainous...

Grace Akello & 3 others

30 September 2019

News

IDS Director calls out unfair and damaging visa system

IDS Director, Professor Melissa Leach, has highlighted how a prejudiced UK visa system that is refusing visas for African researchers is undermining international collaborations and efforts to tackle global challenges such as the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo...

10 June 2019