The informal economy is a crucial source of employment, products, and services for the more than 1.2 billion of the world's population living in informal and inadequate housing settings, while also making essential contributions to growing national economies. Yet, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the ongoing barriers vulnerable communities face, many residents have paradoxically become essential workers on the front lines that entire urban populations are relying on. Consequently, keeping communities that were typically ignored, underrepresented and/or undercounted are now a vital part of a city’s lifeline, despite livelihoods in these precarious neighborhoods remaining critically fragile. Residents are facing a failure to ensure labor protections, vastly insecure and/or inadequate housing and basic service infrastructure (such as water, adequate toilets, sewers, drainage, waste collection), overcrowding and space constraints, violence, food shortages, medical care, social service support, PPE (hand hygiene, eye protection, surgical or respirator masks, gowns, and gloves) and accurate health information about a pandemic that is changing rapidly and still largely unknown to experts. These conditions make physical distancing and self-quarantine all exceedingly complicated and the rapid spread of infectious disease alarmingly evident.
In this webinar, speakers from across the world dived into the most crucial challenges facing frontline informal residents and workers today and showcase innovative ways that leading organizations are supporting vulnerable communities to mitigate COVID-19 in some of the most challenging global settings. The panelists together created a unique call to action to support vulnerable communities by identifying immediate needs, opportunities for support.
Identify the greatest threats and prevention strategies in informal communities from COVID-19: (1) Inconsistent and unclear communications and health information. (2) Challenges in maintaining food security and innovative market strategies. (3) WASH: Water, sanitation and hygiene challenges and solutions.
Physical distancing challenges and innovative ideas that safely repurpose public spaces.
Exchanging local government strategies and actions (overview of different global south cases).
Processes and techniques focused on the public realm that can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in informal settlements.
Participants | Actions
Intro/Opening Remarks by Ethan Kent and UN-Habitat Moderated by Giselle Sebag, MPH: Bloomberg Associates
Mark Ojal: Public Space Program, UN Habitat and Placemaking Nairobi | Action: Calling all creatives to provide support to local governments and protect informal settlements. There is interest from governments to repurpose their public spaces and public markets but there is a lack of design support.