The Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is a science organization working on promoting different ways in which astronomy may impact development. The Covid-19 pandemic represents enormous challenges across society. Just as there is so much about this novel disease that bio-medical, medical, epidemiological and other scientists do not yet know, the same may also be said about understanding how things may pan out on the socio-economic front. This blog series discusses Covid-19’s potential socio-economic impacts, implications and opportunities “in plain language”. The objective is to illuminate the context, given the natural science background from which many scientists around the OAD and similar organizations may be coming from. While the blog series may be educative, the overall aim really is to ignite conversations and interactions and promote a meeting of minds given the complex nature of the world’s problems – for which the Covid-19 pandemic is one of them.
The initial blog series consists of six articles, with each of them published one after the other weekly. The first article summarises a discussion of the economic impact of the pandemic following a webinar by the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UNDESA). The second article discusses the case for re-skilling/multi-skilling of workers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic given the contraction of the Personal Services Sector and the potential expansion of Non-Personal (non-customer facing) Services such as cloud computing. Thirdly, the proliferation of the internet and related technologies has been both a blessing and curse. This article discusses the need to strengthen institutions, trust in government and social contracts in order to combat fake news and its related effects. There have been many research and scientific contributions that among other things seek to improve our understanding of the pandemic, the effects of different policy directions among other important issues. The fourth article summarises and features a research article from some of the leading voices in the development economics discourse. Fifth, the discussion looks at some of the inventions that were created out of necessity as humanity grappled with crises of more or less similar proportions in the past and how they changed things for the better; this to inspire the hope that better days are coming. Similarly, the sixth article argues that the economic growth and development of the 19th Century may also in part have ridden on the back of stronger health on the back of vaccines and other medicines developed in response to past health emergencies.
Please stop by this page and read the latest from the blog series as well as get a handle of some of the OAD’s Covid-19 related work. The OAD’s Annual Call for Proposals for astronomy for development projects is open until 31 May 2020. So if you have an idea that may benefit under this call, there is still some time to submit. Or you can help by sharing the call within your networks.
Articles in this series:
Written by Dr. Tawanda Chingozha, development economist and OAD Fellow