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COVID-19 brought the water struggles in Ghana into our homes in Canada: collective emotions and WaSH struggles in distant locations during health emergencies

15:30, Thursday 11 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made visible the embodied consequences of water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) inequalities and the relationalities of health in place. This paper combines insights from relational geographies and embodied epidemiology to explore psychosocial concerns among Ghanaian migrants in Canada due to multiple and simultaneous roles in the WaSH spaces in Ghana during the COVID-19 pandemic. We explored this using narratives from in-depth interviews with 27 participants (16 women and 11 men) residing in Ontario, Canada. The case of Ghana offers insight into how social ties with home communities could provide a safety net during emergencies but could also affect the psychosocial wellbeing of migrants who feel responsibility, accountability as well as helplessness during times of crisis. Results revealed four interrelated psychosocial stressors influencing wellbeing: social, financial, those related to perceived inequality and to the fear of infection during WaSH access. The paper underscores the urgent need for research to move beyond local health implications of WaSH inequalities and begin to prioritize how these social inequalities are embodied globally.

University of Waterloo
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