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Confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa in early November 2020 exceeded 1.8 million, with 45% occurring in Southern Africa (SAF). Most SAF countries lack the capacity to adequately protect lives and livelihoods. High indebtedness means underfunded essential services, and most countries had just emerged from a severe food crisis and the effects of Cyclone Idai. Donors must go beyond temporary debt service suspension and provide new aid grants. SAF governments must not use the pandemic to restrict civil society advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable people.

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