Malawians receptive to security-related curfews but face many challenges in a potential COVID-19 lockdown, survey shows

Two-thirds of Malawians say that when faced with threats to public security, the government should be able to impose curfews and set up roadblocks to prevent people from moving around, according to an Afrobarometer survey in late 2019.

While the survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic threatened Africa, its findings suggest that a coronavirus lockdown, if instituted, would be respected.

However, the survey also reveals major challenges that many Malawians would face in a lockdown. Most Malawians rely on water sources and toilet facilities outside their compounds, making it difficult to implement hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as frequent handwashing.

Moreover, large majorities of citizens reported going without basic necessities during the previous year, including enough food, medical care, and cash income. These shortages would test Malawians’ ability and resolve to honour a lockdown that they might otherwise consider necessary.