Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Gauteng City-Region

The sixth iteration of QoL was run between October 2020 and May 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns in South Africa meant that data collection for QoL 2020/21 could not begin as originally intended in April 2020. The resulting delay of six months allowed for a set of questions to be included in the survey that asked how COVID-19 may have impacted households or shifted their perceptions about their lives. A report released at the launch of QoL 2020/21 contains a summary of the key findings from the COVID-19 questions that were asked (de Kadt et al., 2021). This Data Brief examines the responses to COVID-19-specific questions in more detail and looks at some of the broader impacts on households, society, the economy and governance.

The GCRO has worked with the Gauteng Provincial Government and key role-players during the pandemic to provide research, data and insights to help inform response planning to COVID-19. QoL data has been key to these outputs. The March 2020 Map of the Month looked to understand the localised risk factors that might contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and might amplify its health and socio-economic impact, in Gauteng communities. Specifically, the maps explored two key themes: (1) the multiple risk factors to maintaining basic preventative hygiene and social distancing; and (2) the multiple risk factors in the context of major shutdowns and potential outbreaks (de Kadt et al., 2020). Further work explored areas such as households vulnerable to income disruption, challenges to accessing food during lockdown, the impact on the elderly and different household configurations, as well as gendered impacts. The GCRO has also had access to geocoded COVID-19 case data via the Gauteng Department of Health Mpilo dataset and has used this data to help understand spatial patterns of the virus, ward-level analysis of data trends as well as age and gender trends in infections. Research outputs are available from a dedicated GCRO webpage.

Results from QoL 2020/21 highlight the substantial and profound impact that COVID-19 has had on overall quality of life, health and well-being of residents in Gauteng (de Kadt et al., 2021). By comparing the results of this most recent survey to previous iterations, the data allows us to understand where shifts and changes may differ from trends that were occurring before the pandemic. It is not always possible to show that the changes are as a result of the pandemic or other stressors and events that happened, but it does allow a deeper understanding of how the changes have happened and who has been impacted. This information is crucial to enable evidence-led policy and to direct efforts to help with recovery.

The first section of this Data Brief details how respondents’ households were directly impacted by the COVID-19 virus. This is followed by an exploration of how households responded to the pandemic with a focus on household behaviour, transport and mobility changes. There are two sections that examine the impacts of the pandemic: the first looks at the economic impacts and the second explores the social impacts. This is followed by a section on social relief and households that received food support. The Data Brief draws to a close with a section on government’s response to the pandemic and the satisfaction therewith, before ending with some conclusions and implications.


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