Assessing the practicality of the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines to the urban poor in the Ghanaian context

Globally, the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has brought to the fore enormous challenges for policy
makers, particularly, as they relate to economic and public health systems. The already weakened global economic situation will be exacerbated by future uncertainties if pragmatic and innovative policies are not put in
place to control the spread of the virus and minimize the socio-economic impact of the disease. To slowdown the
spread of the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced guidelines such as social distancing
to reduce physical contact between people. However, in the conventional literature, there is limited scholarly
work on the practicality of these social distancing guidelines to the urban poor, particularly in the Global South.
This research therefore assesses the applicability of the WHO COVID-19 social distancing guidelines to the urban
poor in Ghana. Data used for the study were obtained through a review and synthesis of secondary literature
primarily from databases such as JSTOR, ERIC, EBSCO and ProQuest. Other grey sources, such as news publications and data from institutional websites were also relied on for the study. The results of this study show that
socio-economic conditions of the urban poor such as uncoordinated public transport systems, unorganized
markets and poor access to water and sanitation undermine the applicability of the WHO social distancing
guidelines in Ghana. Post COVID-19 therefore presents an important lesson for policy makers in Ghana and other
countries in the Global South to respond innovatively to the living conditions of the urban poor. This will help in
the effective management of future pandemics.