As COVID-19 reveals new vulnerabilities in our urban communities, how are cities finding ways to identify and support these newly vulnerable groups?
In Bogota, Colombia, 45% of households are reliant on the informal sector for income. In the UK, middle income households in cities like London have increasingly signed up for food parcels as salary reductions and job loss put pressure on domestic finances. In Louisville, US, the city knew going into COVID that 40% of its population could not get though a $400 emergency. More generally, urban inequalities highlighted globally during COVID-19 response and recovery include: disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people; increased risk to women at work, and from domestic violence within their homes; safety of LGBTQI+ community-safety at home and a higher risk of homelessness; and vulnerability of compounded by reduced safe spaces, such as schools, which also provide access to meals, pastoral care and resources e.g. internet and computers.
In Bogota, Colombia, the 45% of households relied on the informal sector for income are rapidly falling below the poverty line. Many of these households exited poverty in last 15 years, but still vulnerable as informal sellers or street vendors. Households relying on income from the informal economy are often not included as Central and Provincial Governments seeks to mitigate financial hardship on households. In Bogota, these households are now included in the allowance support, identified through a spatial analysis approach that used a population database and information on income and social service uptake.
In the UK, there was a 175% increase in food bank use between April 2019 and April 2020. In Hackney, London, the council IT team joined together data at a property level to identify local people most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis. In Greenwich, London, strategic, ‘food pathways’ have been mapped to organise partnerships for large-scale food provision for vulnerable groups, and to relieve pressure on food banks.
Meanwhile, in Quito, an existing method (R.I.S.Q: RIsk aSsessment tool for Quito) is leveraged to map vulnerabilities and to effectively reach the most needed population, especially in the context of food security. The city of Quito approach includes identifying location with the most needed and define the city’s capacity to provide food where the indicators are chosen accordingly to create a context-speciﬁc index of risk is to be proposed.
Practice: Hear how Bogota, Colombia is using map and database to identify vulnerable beneficiaries for direct cash transfers support on Cities on the Frontline #12 – Unlocking Bogota
Opinion: Six reasons why demography matters during the pandemic– Maitreyi Bordia Das from the World Bank highlights how population studies can shape efforts to address and understand COVID-19, starting with the trinity of fertility, mortality and migration and their implications.
Lesson: Manchester Briefing #7 (25 June) highlights food and financial needs of vulnerable communities, including example from Greenwich on food provision for vulnerable people needing to self-isolate or stay at home during Covid-19.
How To: The Challenge of COVID-19, Reaching the Most Needed in Quito – The municipality of Quito, Ecuador, has adapted a methodology (R.I.S.Q: RIsk aSsessment tool for Quito) to project and map vulnerabilities and effectively reach the most needed population during the crisis of COVID-19 and promote food security.
Practice: Michael Berkowitz (Resilient Cities Catalyst) recommends that cities work with non-profit and community organizations help and assist the vulnerable populations with medicine or food provision. He also suggests having a plan to repurpose and ramp up and city hall staff capacity to look through emergency basic needs and into recovery.