Understanding the politics of Covid-19 in Kampala, Nairobi and Mogadishu: A political settlements approach

Working Paper 4

Badru Bukenya, Tim Kelsall, Jacqueline Klopp, Paul Mukwaya, Tonny Oyana, Eliud Wekesa and Abdhalah Ziraba

May 2022


This paper analyses the politics of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in three East African capital cities: Kampala, Nairobi and Mogadishu. It does so by describing measures to treat, prevent, and mitigate the impact of the pandemic, especially in low-income neighbourhoods, tracing these to dynamics among policy actors in what it calls the “Covid policy domain”. It also situates the character of the response within each country’s “political settlement”, tentatively suggesting that the fingerprints of a “broad-dispersed” political settlement type can be observed in some of the similarities of response, even as the pandemic provided a stimulus to an increased concentration of power. Differences, meanwhile, might be explained by the differential role of the capital city in each of these political settlements: Kampala being perceived mainly as a threat to be contained, Nairobi as a political prize to be gained, while Mogadishu was a comparative sanctuary for the top political leadership, whose population should not be unduly antagonised.


Covid-19, health, politics, political settlements, policy, pandemic response, informal settlements, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, cities