Covid-19 Country Report Chapter 8: The experience and response of civil society to the Covid 19 Pandemic report

Year Published 2021
Business unit: Special Projects
Resource type: Working papers
File type: PDF
Theme(s): Social Development


This chapter describes how civil society mobilised in response to the felt impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa. It briefly reviews on how families and communities were supported by local networks and community-based organisations; how housing, youth, and trade union movements rallied to protect the interests of the groups they support; and how the contribution of the research and analysis offered by academia shaped civil society’s response to the pandemic. In describing specific mobilisation strategies, the chapter looks at how civil society helped reduce the risk of new Covid-19 infections, how it joined forces to help feed millions of hungry people during the hard lockdown, and the advocacy work for the reduction of alcohol-related harm and support for foreign nationals and migrants, among other initiatives. This chapter shows the undeniable goodwill and contribution of many thousands of South Africans acting in solidarity as a vibrant and creative civil society. But their efforts have not always been solicited, appreciated, or supported by government. This is the main recommendation of the chapter – that government develop stronger routine engagement with civil society to promote collaboration and effective partnership. In particular, the representation of civil society on formal consultative bodies is crucial in ensuring the unique contribution of the sector is heard and valued.

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