In a Washington Post article published on May 1, 2020, award-winning journalists Edward H. Carpenter and Charli Carpenter published an article entitled, “East Africa has weathered pandemics — and has a few things to teach the U.S.”
In the article, they write how African leaders have managed the crisis much better than the U.S. They write: These factors make it all the more remarkable that emerging economies of East Africa are far better prepared for this crisis than the United States was even two weeks ago. These countries include some of the more stable African nations (Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea) and some of the most unstable (Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan). What they share is a relatively low incidence of the coronavirus and a strong, proactive and coordinated response to the crisis.
The current pandemic won’t be the last the world faces. And while it is functionally too late for the United States to do anything but fight its way through the coronavirus crisis, it can start to look for examples of better ways to deal with the next one.
Those ways can be found in East Africa.
They go onto write in their piece, ‘The East African situation has implications for the United States. First, there is a high probability that the difference between the American and Chinese approaches to helping the countries deal with the pandemic will further tilt the region toward China’s sphere of influence. This could be exacerbated if the American military and diplomatic planners choose to pull their people out, as has already happened with the Peace Corps, whose forced evacuation of all volunteers resulted in over 1,000 “ambassadors of goodwill” leaving East African countries at a time when they are needed most. Such a move, even done in the name of risk avoidance, would most likely cause irreparable reputational harm to the United States in a region that may be one of the great emerging markets.
Josephine Olsen, I’m told by Peace Corps insiders, was following the direction of her favorite president, Donald Trump, by ETing over 7,000 Volunteers worldwide. Since then, as we know, Trump has declared there is little to worry about with the virus, and ordered everyone back to work and out to play.