Making policies work


Briefing Notes (series)

COVID-19 vaccines: The challenges of protecting Africa’s fragile regions


Sophie Desmidt and Ashley Neat, ECDPM brief, March 2021

Share Button

This briefing note looks at the challenges ahead for large-scale vaccination, as part of our series of looking at the longer term effects of COVID-19 on conflict and fragility in Africa. We ask some of the hard questions about the potential repercussions for highly fragile situations in Africa and what it might mean for the European Union’s role in the global response to the pandemic.

As countries continue to deal with the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, they are now turning their attention to vaccination. Yet in a context of geopolitical competition surrounding vaccine procurement, Africa has been unable to secure sufficient doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The challenges are even greater for highly fragile and conflict-affected countries, where poor health infrastructure, limited access, security challenges and misinformation will make vaccination an arduous task. There is a real risk that the most vulnerable communities in Africa will be left behind. Without sufficient access to vaccines, the prolonged social, economic, health and political impacts of the pandemic are likely to exacerbate existing problems for the most fragile and conflict-affected regions.

The EU’s performance as a global health actor during this pandemic has been mixed. It has attempted to act as one bloc under ‘Team Europe’, supported global health initiatives such as COVAX, and financed research and innovation initiatives. However, it has also been criticised for over-ordering vaccines and for the relatively small amount of funding geared towards COVID-19 relief.

Taking all this into account, we put forth some recommendations on how the EU can support equitable access to vaccines in fragile and conflict-affected regions in Africa as part of its external action.

Read the brief

Please refresh the page in case the file does not load or download the file here.

Download (PDF, 598KB)

Photo courtesy of Volker Hauck, ECDPM.

More on COVID-19 and international cooperation

To see all ECDPM work on COVID-19 and international cooperation, have a look at our dossier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Sophie Desmidt


2021-03-16 10:45:00

Dear Mr Machakaire, many thanks for your kind feedback. This is certainly an issue that will remain on our radar, in all of its aspects and potential effects on peace and security in Africa. Looking forward to engage further in the future!

James Machakaire


2021-03-15 14:00:28

Hi Sophie thank you for your posts on covid-19 they are really informative and instructive. I am in the peace and security landscape and we have seen the impact covid 19 has had on peacekeepers. Please keep writing as we will derive benefit from your posts. Thank and keep it uo

Security and resilienceBriefing Notes (series)COVID-19ConflictFragile statesFragilityAfrica