The Need for More Resilience

© Kibera (Nairobi) Source: musicfiend / CC BY-ND 2.0

The major challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic leave us with the question, how we can ensure that nobody is left behind? The key to the current crisis and future shocks is to build up urban resilience that enables cities, regions and communities to flexibly adapt to changing conditions and withstand shocks. Key for building urban resilience is a people-centered approach, that involves inclusion of communities’ local organisations and their local knowledge, as well as having a sustainable plan for responses that enables local civic engagement. 

With a "place-based approach’’ cities need to help the people hit hardest by the pandemic of whom most are living in slums and informal settlements. Sustainable and well-targeted services for the urban poor will be one of the most essential responses cities and communities can provide.  Civil society and the private sector will be of crucial importance for the early recovery phase to keep up services and keep the economy running. While the private sector can contribute to the continued functioning of infrastructure and can provide hygiene products at a low cost, community led initiatives will play an important role for the direct distribution of these products and for raising awareness for the importance of the measures taken.

It is essential that the right lessons are drawn when local and national governments work together to recover from the pandemic. It seems clear that the focus of these efforts must be placed on the most vulnerable in society. Entering a phase of a "new normal’’ will entail cities, regions and communities having to increase their capacity for resilience. The need for strong sources of financial revenue and a stronger focus on emergency response and recovery will be essential in order to prepare for the next crisis, be it in the area of health or another sector

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