Read the Global V Report for African Region

The Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization Gold V launches Regional Chapters African efforts to achieve global agendas of development is a work in progress. Africa is predicted to achieve only 3 SDGs 5 13 15.

Read about Local Africa‘s contribution made with the support of UCLG Africa here.

This report is the result of a participatory process which brought together the expertise of researchers from different regions, the work and feedback of all UCLG Regional Sections, Committees and partners, as well as the direct contribution of cities, local and regional governments and their national associations and networks. The Report is the outcome of a collective effort by UCLG and its membership and it marks a new milestone of collaboration and commitment for our constituency as a whole.

The report showcases local and regional governments’ efforts to achieve the global sustainable agendas, and analyses the evolution of institutional frameworks for national governments, cities, local and regional governments in each world region.

 

Women’s leadership will be critical for rethinking the future in the post-COVID-19 era

Barcelona, Spain and Nairobi Kenya, 08 May 2020
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting women and men differently. The twelfth thematic live learning experience provided an opportunity for local and regional women leaders from across the world to outline their key strategies, concerns and experiences, recalling their critical role on the frontlines of the crisis.

The session highlighted some key topics identified by women leaders the world over. The increase in gender violence in situations of confinement, the role of women in global leadership, the need for a new governance system that considers women as critical actors in the rebuilding phase, and the state of the world in the COVID-19 aftermath were among the critical issues explored by participants.

UCLG Women leaders had agreed on a call to action called Women’s Leadership for the PostCOVID19 Era and the main components. Calling for a sustainable and gender-equal future were presented during the session.

The session was introduced by Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, who highlighted the current situation for women in the world. Regnér mentioned, in particular, that even though “women are sought after, they are still paid less than men”. She explained the situation was particularly bad in health-care work, especially in relation to the care of older persons, for which many women are often not paid at all.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director urged all spheres of government and stakeholders to put women and girls at the centre of efforts in the recovery. She argued that women and girls are more at risk in the pandemic, in particular as they will be most affected by loss of jobs, and called for local and regional leaders to take measures to curb this.

“Women need to be at the centre of global decision-making and have a seat at the table. We need to pay special focus to older persons and women and girls living with disability, who can easily be forgotten in the recovery.”

Thembisile Nkadimeng, Mayor of Polokwane and UCLG Co-President, argued for the importance of women’s self-organization in order to better rebuild in the aftermath.  She called for national governments to act on gendered inequalities and enhance well-being with universal healthcare and social protection. She also called for the development of an equality framework in urban planning and legislation to ensure full inclusion of women and girls in the social fabric of cities and regions.
“As identified in our UCLG Decalogue for the Post COVID-19 era, we know well that the sacrifices that we are asking from this and future generations need to lead to more just and equality driven societies where we take care of each other.”

The high-level discussion was opened by Ada ColauMayor of Barcelona, and UCLG Special Envoy to the United Nations, who highlighted how the crisis has made it all the more important to have decent public healthcare systems. She, explained that, in the aftermath, it will be necessary to develop a new economy that puts people in the centre, that does not speculate with basic needs, adopts premises of the feminist, pacifist, and ecologist movements, and empowers local and regional governments to provide solutions to communities.

Emilia SaizUCLG Secretary General, moderated the discussions arguing that, looking into the future, empowering women and girls is critical and argued that a different type of partnership between spheres of government and the civil society, in particular women’s groups, is needed for the aftermath of the crisis. Emilia Saiz also commended the clear call of the local women leaders to ensure that gender equality is at the heart of the recovery plans. Furthermore it is “critical to commit to the global agendas in the recovery, we cannot allow priorities to shift and consider the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda as accessories,” she stated.

Claudia López, Mayor of Bogotá, argued that the recovery phase needs to respond to the deep questions that were being asked before the outbreak. The values of solidarity and empathy are needed, she argued, to respond to this pandemic and those that will come. Pilar Díaz, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat, also highlighted the value of care work, and of those people – the great majority of them women- who carry out this work. Putting care in the centre of policies is integral, she argued, for a people-centred recovery.

Gender violence was a common theme in the conversation, with Souad AbderrahimMayor of Tunis highlighting how her city works in real time to protect and support women survivors of violence, even during the pandemic. The Vice Mayor of Quito, Gissela Chalá also called for developing political strategies to eradicate gender violence including psychological and patrimonial violence against women. The recovery, she stated, will only come if we reinvent ourselves from with a Right to the City approach.

Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala and Vice-President of UCLG for Europe, also argued that violence towards women and girls could become a real crisis in the coming months, and called for gender equality to be framed as a question of human rights. She also highlighted how the crisis will affect migrant and refugee families.

Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, highlighted that incorporating a gendered planning of cities means designing for all women as in the statement of the Executive Director of UN-Habitat. She argued that, in the aftermath, women will need to be in the centre of decision-making since they have been most affected by the crisis and therefore have a critical perspective. Fatimetou Abdel MalickPresident of Nouakchott Region echoed this sentiment by calling for balanced representation of women in decision making processes at all spheres, to protect them and respond to their needs.

Madeleine Almelo-GazmanMayor of Iriga, UCLG Treasury, said that the crisis presents an opportunity to promote gender equality in cities, in the home, and in the workplace. She also argued the only way to overcome the pandemic is by working together, and becoming better citizens to develop a sustainable world.

Elvira Dolotkazina, Vice-Mayor of Nizhnekamsk addressed how local and regional governments can support women’s needs during the pandemic, describing specific plans from Nizhnekamsk during the outbreak to carry out non-discriminatory employment policies and service provision.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73th United Nations General Assembly called for coordinated global action based on solidarity and cooperation. Co-responsibility among spheres of Government, an inclusive multilateralism that considers local governments, and a perspective that considers the 2030 Agenda, she argued, will allow us to develop a new social contract that addresses all inequalities.

Gabriela Cuevas, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), argued that it is key to ensure global agreements become local solutions. She said that the impact of women leadership had been key in the pandemic, in terms of transparency, direct communication on the need to develop inter-governmental dialogues, and being sensitive to different communities.

Paola Pabón, Prefect of the Pichincha region focused on  the need to think about food sovereignty and security in the aftermath of the pandemic, calling for the activation of  the whole range of  popular and solidarity-based economic activities in the aftermath, including micro-finances for women, small-scale producers and agriculture. Fatma Şahin, Mayor of Gaziantep, argued that food security will be a crucial issue for the future, as will be the need to guarantee healthcare for all populations.

Hajjia MariamPresident of REFELA Ghana, called for all spheres of government to pay attention to vulnerable communities, addressing in particular children living in the streets in order to truly leave no-one behind.

Prior to ending the session, the group reflected in a Mentimeter exercise on what a Generation Equality Coalition for leadership should strive for. The word cloud resulting from the survey highlighted three key concepts: justicefreedom, and human rights.

The wrap-up of the session was handled by Octavi de la Varga Secretary General of Metropolis, and Ana Falú, UCLG UBUNTU advisor. The Secretary General of Metropolis argued that it is necessary for male leaders to listen to women perspectives and approaches, and to support this transformation. Ana Falú called for political leadership to generate new links among people and institutions. She argued that women’s leadership in national states and provinces, as well as local governments, is essential to this end, and called for a roadmap to think about the post-COVID era in terms of what it means for women, and how to articulate a way forward.

At the  closing, Shipra Narang Suri, Chief of the Urban Practices Branch of UN-Habitat, reiterated the commitment of UN-Habitat to support gender equality in local governments.

Cities were called to upload their experiences in the platform www.citiesforglobalhealth.org where over 400 cases can be found. The live learning exercises will continue throughout May, with experiences on accessibility and public service delivery.

About Live Learning Experience Series:
The Live Learning Series hosted by UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat, has brought together more than 1,000 participants over the course of six sessions in which participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, and partners from civil society shared their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the pandemic through the provision of key basic services.

The series started late March and cities across the globe have shared their experiences, initiatives and actions in response to the pandemic. They also shared their frontline views on how cities may transform beyond the outbreak.

About United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG):

UCLG is the global organization of local and regional governments and their associations that represents and defends their interests on the world stage. Representing 70 per cent of the world’s population, UCLG members are present in all world regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Eurasia, Middle East-West Asia, Latin America and North America – organised in seven continental sections, a metropolitan section and a regional forum. This network covers more than 240,000 cities, regions and metropolises and more than 175 local and regional government associations present in 140 countries. UCLG includes among its main areas of political interest local democracy, climate change and environmental protection, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, local finance, urban development and city diplomacy for peacebuilding. Visit www.uclg.org and follow @uclg_org for more.

About UN-Habitat:

UN-Habitat is the UN agency focused on our cities, towns and communities. UN-Habitat works in over 90 countries supporting people in cities and human settlements for a better urban future. Working with governments and local partners, its high impact projects combine world-class expertise and local knowledge to deliver timely and targeted solutions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a dedicated Goal on cities, SDG 11 – to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.   Visit www.unhabitat.org and follow @unhabitat for further information.

For more details contact:
Alejandra Salas
UCLG World Secretariat, Barcelona
communication@uclg.org

Susannah Price
Chief of Communication, UN-Habitat
susannah.price@un.org
Tel 254 722 719867

Addressing informalities in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond

Barcelona, Spain and Nairobi Kenya, 04 May 2020

Vulnerable and invisibilized populations, in particular those that live in informal settlements, and work in the informal economy, are among the most fragile affected by the pandemic. The Live Learning Session on Informalities and COVID-19 shed light on how to best respond to this immense challenge, from the local sphere, counting on our communities. 

This Live Learning Session that took place on April 29 was organized in collaboration with Cities Alliance, and with partners from the World Bank, Habitat for Humanity; the private sector, Academia, and Habitat International Coalition.

Mayors, vice-mayors and councillors from a wide range of cities across the world, as well as representatives from national governments, shared their experiences and learning around the very real impact that COVID-19 was having in the informal sector in their cities, and how they were working to address it. Patricio Morera, Vice Minister, Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements, Costa Rica; Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, Mayor of Freetown; Noraini Roslan, Mayor of Subang Jaya; Rohey Malick Lowe; Mayor of Banjul; and Jesús Darío González, Secretary of Government of Cali.

The session also featured the participation of partners from civil society and representatives from the informal sector such as Jane Weru, Executive Director of the Akiba Mashinani Trust; Haija Mariam Iddrissu, President of REFELA Ghana, and Caroline Skinner, Director of Urban Research, WIEGO; as well as representatives from the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-Habitatopened the session by stating that 2020 has started the decade of action for the 2030 Agenda, and we will not be able to move beyond this outbreak and towards a new normal if people in informality remain at risk.” She spelt out specific guidance for local governments in developing countries to plan and manage the new normal, with regard to housing, basic services, organizing markets and mobility and other matters that are most important for communities living in informal settlements.

Billy Cobbett, Director of Cities Alliance, welcomed the focus on informality. “It is important to put informal dwellers on the map, and in the budget. This is how change happens,” he said. He argued that short-term responses needed to be guided by a long-term approaches on the issues of access to land and also on the need for national, regional, and local governments to provide frameworks for the development of local skills.

Octavi de la Varga, Secretary General of Metropolisprovided the metropolitan approach to the relationship between informalities and COVID-19, and called for the need to rethink the model of development and bring about new approaches to governance, bringing to the table grassroots organizations that were working to provide services, and working on enhancing dialogue among them and national governments.

The first round table was facilitated by Anaclaudia Marinheiro Centeno Rossbach, regional adviser for Latin America and Caribbean Cities Alliance, and began with the intervention of Patricio Morera, Vice Minister from the Ministry of Housing and Human Settlements, Costa Rica, who laid out the protocol for dealing with the economic aspects of COVID-19 in informal settlements in her country, based on ending evictions, prioritizing national-local action plans, and enhancing basic service provision in informal settlements.

Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, Mayor of Freetown, stated that community outreach is key for the response, involving specific community groups and the most vulnerable populations in the preparation before the worst of the pandemic hits, and how slum upgrading and gender mainstreaming will be two essential topics in the reconstruction to ensure no communities are left behind.

Mayor of Subang Jaya, Noraini Roslan, argued that informal communities need to be empowered rather than judged, and called for the legalization of the informal sector, since it is an integral part of the economies of our cities. Jane Weru, Executive Director of the Akiba Mashinani Trust, argued that, while involving informal communities in the COVID-19 response is a must, it is essential to invest beforehand in planning, and including them in budgets.

Steve Weir, Habitat for Humanity, reminded the session of how the Town Hall process initiated in Durban had called for a change of narrative regarding informality. He highlighted that the goal was to develop a broader narrative, involving all stakeholders, with public-private people partnerships being an integral part of the co-creation necessary to transform societies.

The second round table was introduced by Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG, who picked up on the notion of co-creation and community involvement provided by the participants in the previous roundtable, and highlighted that “the pandemic has exacerbated some of the problems we had. We clearly need to address evictions, we need to make sure that the temporary measures that we take become permanent, and we need to make it clear that no sphere of government can do this alone”.

Emilia Saiz showcased the Decalogue for the Post-COVID19 era, which has been developed by UCLG, that provides measures for new governance in the aftermath with the 2030 Agenda as a framework, and called on participants to provide their visions under the 10 points developed in the document.

Jesús Darío González, Secretary of Government of Cali showcased the “the vaccine is in your hands” initiative, that had allowed for developing co-responsibility with informal communities, by allowing them to be the ones to react proactively to the outbreak.

Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, also addressed the need to include the women and youth living in informal settlements in planning strategies, since their risk of infection is often higher, and thanked REFELA, the local elected women’s network of Africa, for their role in awareness raising among women in Africa, and in Banjul. Haija Mariam Iddrissu, President of REFELA Ghana also  focused on the gender gap in informal communities, and how REFELA aims to provide information to women in informal communities to sensitize them to the issues around the virus and how to carry out preventive measures.

Involving communities in the reconstruction phase was a recurring theme for Caroline Skinner, Director of Urban Research, WIEGO, who addressed the need for monitoring what solutions informal workers had been developing in the midst of the pandemic, in particular on physical  distancing, and water and waste management, and called on local governments to provide support to local communities.

Barbara Lipietz, Associate Professor at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit of University College London, highlighted how essential it is to shed light on alternatives and positive responses, to ensure a response to the crisis that also covers our structural vulnerabilities and thus brings us not to normality, but to a “better” normality.

Gérard Wolf, President of the Cities Taskforce, Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) provided the perspective of the private sector, highlighting the example of France, that had developed a coalition for basic services with all stakeholders, including national, local, and regional governments, as well as the private sector and NGOs.

Sameh Wahba, Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice presented the initiatives of the World Bank in partnering with informal communities and organizations such as Slum/Shack Dwellers International, and argued that the work that is being carried out now is a means to prepare for the new normality.

The final remarks during the session were provided by Adriana Allen, President of the Habitat International Coalition, who presented the lessons learnt, and called for the informal sector to be acknowledged as an integral part of cities. She argued that redistribution of resources would be integral to transform societies in the aftermath, and stated that considering data produced in informal environments would be key in enabling this redistribution.

Filiep Decorte, Chief Programme Development Branch at UN-Habitat, agreed on the need to consider all communities as equal parts of the city, and called for  a coalition, with the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs as a framework, to ensure reconstruction programmes have a real impact.

The session was closed by representatives of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments. Greg Munro, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum called for the acknowledgement of  the codependence of the formal and informal sectors; and Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, who argued for the need to provide a direct conduit to the more vulnerable populations to ensure they would have access to resources, and to change how partnerships are carried out so they benefit those that need them the most.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

About the Live Learning Experience Series:
The Live Learning Series hosted by UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat, has brought together more than 1,000 participants over the course of six sessions in which participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, and partners from civil society shared their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the pandemic through the provision of key basic services.
The Live Learning Sessions will continue throughout the month, taking place on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the crisis. Local Finance, Local Economic Development, and Informalities will be among the topics covered as cities around the world are looking at how to overcome challenges with a new generation of solutions.

About United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG):

UCLG is the global organization of local and regional governments and their associations that represents and defends their interests on the world stage. Representing 70 per cent of the world’s population, UCLG members are present in all world regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Eurasia, Middle East-West Asia, Latin America and North America – organised in seven continental sections, a metropolitan section and a regional forum. This network covers more than 240,000 cities, regions and metropolises and more than 175 local and regional government associations present in 140 countries. UCLG includes among its main areas of political interest local democracy, climate change and environmental protection, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, local finance, urban development and city diplomacy for peacebuilding. Visit http://www.uclg.org and follow @uclg_org for more.

About UN-Habitat:

UN-Habitat is the UN agency focused on our cities, towns and communities. UN-Habitat works in over 90 countries supporting people in cities and human settlements for a better urban future. Working with governments and local partners, its high impact projects combine world-class expertise and local knowledge to deliver timely and targeted solutions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a dedicated Goal on cities, SDG 11 – to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.   Visit www.unhabitat.org and follow @unhabitat for further information.

For more details contact:
Alejandra Salas
UCLG World Secretariat, Barcelona
communication@uclg.org

Susannah Price
Chief of Communication, UN-Habitat
susannah.price@un.org
Tel 254 722 719867

Press release: African cities without street children, the time of action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Women and youth suffer the most. The risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus is 50% higher,” said Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul (Gambia) and President of REFELA for Gambia, when speaking about the consequences of the Covid-19 virus in informal settlements.

This is proving to be true! The Covid crisis has exacerbated the situation of those who do not have a home. Such is the case for street children who cannot be confined to their homes because they have no home. In Africa there are more than 30 million street children! They live on the streets in conditions of extreme poverty unable to meet their basic needs or receive any education, begging for food and often suffering from serious health conditions. How can these children wash their hands when they have no water? How can they be expected to respect social distancing when they live together in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions?

In Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Bamako, Dakar, Cairo, and Kinshasa, one can see thousands of street children.  Statistics, when they exist, indicate a far lower number than what the reality is! This phenomenon has many causes: poverty, population displacement linked to urbanization, armed conflicts, socio-political crises, natural disasters and famine. In an increasingly urbanized and connected world with huge inequalities and terrible wars, the issue of street children is affecting an increasing number of cities in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world.

UCLG Africa and its network of locally elected women, REFELA, launched the Campaign for African Cities without Street Children in November 2018, during the Africities Summit in Marrakesh, in the presence of and with the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco. More than 60 African Cities have subscribed to the campaign, whose aim is to build a common response to the issue, one which undermines social cohesion within our communities and is a real ticking time bomb that calls into question the resolution of the international community to leave no one behind, as expressed in Agenda 2030.

The Campaign of African Cities without Street Children has been met with great support. UNICEF has shown its interest together with many other international organizations and institutions. However, the campaign now needs to become a reality and to deliver a concrete response to these children who are suffering more than ever.

For this reason, UCLG Africa and REFELA call on the international community to intervene and to provide real assistance. “We need to honour the social pact of our society. The International community can no longer stand by without doing anything to help these children,” said the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. “We need to support cities to finance projects and build shelters, schools, health and psychological centers for these children. We need to transform words into actions.”

Consult the Second Call for expression of Interest for the African Cities Without Street Children Campaign (+)

COVID-19: African local and regional governments on the front line

 

 

 

 

Like the medical profession, local governments are on the front line in the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus.  In the context of decentralization, it is the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that basic services in towns and cities are effective. On the African continent, local governments are stepping up awareness-raising activities amongst the population, in some cases taking measures to stop the spread as well as working together with central governments. On 21 April 2020, statistics published by the African Union showed that 55 countries were affected, with more than 23,000 cases and 1,000 deaths (Consult in real time here). The responses of cities, local authorities and national associations of local authorities in the fight against this global pandemic is varied according to their context.

Central Africa

In Gabon, the Libreville mayor’s office has joined the government in implementing measures to combat the spread of the virus. The country, which is one of the least affected countries with fewer than 100 infected cases, hopes to contain the spread of the disease in the capital Libreville and as such, the total containment of Libreville was decreed by the government on Friday, 10 April, 2020. The mayor of the capital M. Léandre Nzué and his staff have disinfected certain districts of Libreville and organized the sensitization of the population and the distribution of protection kits to the mayors of the districts of the municipality of Libreville .

In Cameroon, the newly elected mayors from the February 2020 municipal elections are hard at work. The mayors of Douala, the economic capital and the most populous city in the country, have decided that the city should join the screening campaign led by the Minister of Public Health in calling on the population to give a favorable welcome to the agents in charge; the installation of a central cubitainer in the city’s high-traffic areas; the manufacture of washable and reusable fabric protective masks that will be distributed free of charge in markets and to motorcycle taxis; the limitation, at the initiative of the borough mayors, of the number of visitors inside and outside the town hall buildings during wedding ceremonies; the prohibition of the sale of foodstuffs from the ground; and the imminent launch of a major fund-raising campaign to facilitate the implementation of this strategic plan and to provide substantial financial support to the municipalities.

In the Dschang commune in the west of the country, the municipal executive of Dschang introduced hand washing and disinfection devices and protocols, dug a borehole at the district hospital and donated an ambulance. Mayor Jacquis Gabriel Kemleu Tchabgou explained that a total of eight boreholes will be built for the population. “The other boreholes will then be drilled at the town hall, the administrative centre, markets A, B and Tsinfem and Tsinkop.” (More details available in the video).

In Congo, the mayor’s office of Pointe Noire will contribute 50 million FCFA to the crisis unit set up by the government.  In addition, the municipal council of 1 April, chaired by Jean François Kando, mayor of Pointe Noire, decided that,“state-owned markets will be open in a regulated manner on Wednesdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. only for food pavilions sellingfish, meat, vegetables, condiments and other foodstuffs. The makeshift markets will be closed and sidewalk sales prohibited. Essential service structures (banks, petrol stations, hospitals et al) will remain open. Wedding ceremonies are postponed until further notice. Wakes are prohibited. Walks and sports activities on the beach are prohibited.

In Central African Republic, the mayor of Bangui, Mr. Émile Gros Raymond Nakombo, has announced the suspension of wedding ceremonies at the town halluntil further notice.

West Africa

In Senegal, the contribution from local authorities amounts to 1 billion 677 million FCFA.  Each commune injected 5 million FCFA, not counting material contributions. The situation was reviewed by the President of the Association of Mayors of Senegal (AMS), Mr. Aliou Sall and the President of the Association of Presidents of Senegal Departments (APDS), Mr. Adama Diouf. The city of Dakar is one of the first municipalities to step up to the plate with a donation of 100 million FCFA to the national fund to fight against the coronavirus, “Force Covid-19”.  Dakar’s mayor, Mrs. Soham El Wardini and her city council have also equipped the reference hospitals with more than 80 million FCFA, disinfected more than 80 public buildings including the 56 high schools and colleges of Dakar, rehabilitated a health centre to the tune of 20 million FCFA to be placed at the disposal of the Stateand placed all socio-cultural centres at the disposal of the State, in particular to accommodate street children.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Autonomous District of Abidjan has released 719 million CFAF for the implementation of its action plan for the fight against Covid19. “We will need to work very finely (sic) for the distribution of food kits to the most deprived populations. There will be a donation distribution in 118 villages and the 13 communes, to the Abidjan prefecture, religious denominations and NGOs,” said Mr. Robert Beugré Mambé, Governor of the Abidjan district, a gesture welcomed by the President of the Union of Cities and Communes of Côte d’Ivoire (UVICOCI), Mr. Claude Paulin Danho. “It is a multi-sectoral response and we must be in solidarity. The mayors have started to play their part and today the district governor comes to add another layer, to awaken in us the responsibility so that civism is respected by all our citizens,” he said. The mayor  of Grand Bassam, Mr. Jean Louis Moulot is also working to raise awareness (Video).

In Ghana, the National Association of Local Government Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has called on all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to intensify their activities in the fight against the pandemic.  Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, the mayor of the capital, Accra, has multiplied awareness messages to the population and on 15 April 2020 launched the ‘Wear Your Mask’ campaign to promote the wearing of masks. “Accra is the epicentre of the pandemic in this country and we must do all we can to stop the spread of the virus, hence the need to standardize the wearing of face masks every time we leave the house.  It’s simple, a cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth can reduce air droplets and increase protection against the virus,” he said. Accra City Hall has also distributed hand-washing equipment in markets and other public places in the city to ensure good hygiene practices among shopkeepers and customers as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus. A total of nearly 10,000 locally manufactured protective masks will be distributed to the people of Accra.

In Burkina Faso, the municipality of Ougadougou has also been active in the field with sensitization in the markets.  The mayor,Mr. Armand Roland Pierre BEOUINDE organized and participated in food distribution sessions. (Video)

In Banjul,Gambia, Mrs Rohey Malick Lowe multiplied awareness messages by particularly addressing women in her capacity as mayor of the capital and president of the Network of Locally Elected Women (REFELA) Gambia chapter.

English Version:Important message from the President REFELA GAMBIA NATIONAL CHAPTER to the #WOMEN of The Gambia. #CombatingCOVID-19#BanjulCanDoIt

Gepostet von Rohey Malick Lowe for Banjul Mayoress am Dienstag, 14. April 2020

Southern Africa

In South Africa, President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA),Ms Thembi Nkadimeng, met with the President of the Republic, HE Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa in the framework of the Presidential Coordinating Council to discuss the role of local and regional governments during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. His Excellency Mr. Ramaphosa urged the country’s ministers and mayors to be on the alert and prepare to accelerate the delivery of services. He pointed out that the pandemic had taught the government not to work in isolation.  SALGA has disseminated several awareness raising messages for the respect of barriers and for the containment decreed by the President of the Republic.

Video of the president of SALGA

Local Government's response to #COVID19

Local Government joins the clarent call made by the The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa to urge you and sansitise you to #StayHome during the 21 days #LockDownSA

Gepostet von South African Local Government Association (SALGA) am Freitag, 3. April 2020

In Botswana, the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) is also on the front line in assisting the population in this time of crisis.  It has invited its members to assist the population and ensure the implementation of prevention measures. Women councilors from Lobatsedonated 55 cooking stoves and 50 litres of paraffin to be distributed to households in need during the lockdown period, the aim being to prevent women from going out to fetch firewood for cooking.

In Zambia, the Mayor of KITWE and President of the Zambia Local Government Association (ZILGA), Mr. Christopher Kang’ombe, visited the Kawama market to explain the importance of respecting social distancing in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

East Africa

In Kenya,the 47 county governments have identified additional buildings to serve as quarantine facilities in the counties. These are mainly secondary boarding schools. Most of the county governments have purchased water treatment chemicals for the water companies and have also assumed responsibility for providing clean water to communities in need. The county governments, in collaboration with KEBS, have asked their SMEs to start producing masks. Boda boda drivers received masks through the county governments to ensure their own safety and that of their passengers. The counties are in the process of relocating the affected population to the slums and providing food subsidies for distribution.

In Uganda, the government, through the Ministry of Local Government, released funds to the UgandaLocal Government Association (ULGA) for the fight against VIDOC at the local levelon April 17, 2020. ULGA called on its members, “to be very efficient in the use of these valuable resources and to be accountable for them.

In Rwanda, the City of Kigali informed the general public that, “all concerts and other public gatherings that bring many peopletogether, such as entertainment concerts, exhibitions, festivals, open days, marching events, among others, are postponed from 8 March until further notice. All event permits issued by the City of Kigali prior to this notice are repealed.

North Africa

In Morocco, The MoroccanAssociation of Presidents of Communal Councils (AMPCC) has asked its members to devote part of their budget to the fund for the management of the fight against Covid-19.

In Mauritania, the Network of Locally Elected Women (REFELA) of Mauritania has initiated an awareness campaign in the various local languages (video). Mauritania is one of the least affected countries. The last patient with Covid-19 was declared as having recovered on 18 April 2020.

In Tunisia, in addition to raising awareness and providing food assistance to the population, the municipality of Tunis pledged on 10 April 2020, “to bury all the victims of Covid-19 if burials cannot be carried out in the regions where the deceased lived.

Awareness raising video with Mrs. Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis.

In Egypt, Cairo’s Governor Khaled Abdel-Aal has called on shopkeepers to stop large public gatherings and organize their shopping to avoid crowds in Cairo’s downtown El-Mousky and Attaba districts, which host two of Cairo’s largest street markets.

In Algeria, a solidarity allowance amounting to ten thousand (10,000) dinars per family was granted to the needy and those affected by measures to prevent and combat the Coronavirus epidemic during the month of Ramadan. The village committees will be responsible for carrying out this operation in collaboration with the Communal People’s Assembly (CPA).

 

Exchanges, peer learning & solidarity between municipalities and regions worldwide are key to the fight against COVID-19

Towns and regions worldwide are at the forefront in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. Sharing experiences between them is essential and as such the EU should include them in its global response to the pandemic. This was the message shared by more than 70 participants from Europe and Africa who joined the webinar “COVID-19: EU global response & local government international action” organised on Friday 17 April by PLATFORMA.

This webinar gathered representatives of international and European institutions (United Nations, European Commission, Parliament, EU country diplomats from Member States representations to the EU), local and regional elected officials and representatives of towns and regions’ national associations.

Aida Liha Matejicek, from the European Commission’s DG for International Cooperation and Development, gave an overview of the EU’s global response to COVID-19 adopted last week. She insisted on the “#TeamEurope” coordination spirit between financial donors.

The EU officialmade clear that the most vulnerable people and fragile health systems were central in the EU response, which is “as comprehensive as possible”, with the principle of “leaving no one behind”. The response seeks to“ensure the respect of human rights and democracy, with a strong focus on the most vulnerable, including women and girls and the domestic violence they may face”.

Matejicek agreed that local and regional governments were the first confronted to the crisis. “Peer to peer learning in this sense is extremely valuable and important,” she said. “A community driven response as well as a collective approach is the most critical to help to address the needs of those who are hit the hardest”.

“Reinventing ourselves”

The Mayor of Strasbourg and President of Cités Unies FranceRoland Ries, was the first to share his experience from a municipal perspective. “COVID-19 and the disaster it has produced, are changing everything and showing us just how fragile the international system is, how fragile our institutions are and how fragile humankind is,” he said.

He welcomed the Team Europe spirit adopted by the European institutions and stressed the need for solidarity within and outside Europe. “It is a moment when we also have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to align ourselves better to the 17 SDGs adopted by the United Nations in 2015, to capitalise and reinforce our friendships and partnerships across the world,” he said.

Cités Unies France will closely work with local and regional governments and their representative associations in Africa (in the Sahel in particular) and in Haiti.

A global cooperation framework

Pilar Díaz, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat in Spain, emphasised the Province of Barcelona’s long experience of city-to-city and region-to-region development cooperation. “This is a crucial moment to highlight the added value of decentralised cooperation”, she said. “We need to think of a global cooperation framework, since the virus will not be contained if it isn’t contained equally in all the regions of the world.”

Ms Díaz was also concerned by increasing social and economic inequalities. She welcomed the more than €900 billion of emergency measures for Latin America but stressed : “we still do not know how significant development cooperation, and in particular allocations for local and regional governments, will be in the next long-term EU budget.”

Hans Janssen, the Mayor of Oisterwijk in the Netherlands and a representative of VNG International, stressed that local governments and their representative associations are used to acting in crisis situations. “We should use the already acquired experience to help each other, and build on tools already developed: scenario planning, risk assessments, recovery plans” he said. VNG, is working in Lebanon, Iraq and Uganda on dealing with the consequences of the refugee crises and was also active in Haiti, after it was struck by a terrible earthquake.

He called on the EU for concrete support, to be “more flexible in the existing programmes to better allow local and regional governments to adapt to the situation” and “to become more pragmatic and responsive”.

Mr Janssen also highlighted the essential role of national associations of local and regional governments in partner countries as “a key point of liaison for municipalities to reach out to the national government.”

The guardians of international solidarity

Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Africa, said that so far, Africa was “among the regions which have been the least hit by COVID-19, contrary to what was expected by the international community and the World Health Organisation”.

He also made clear that only cities and regions were able to take measures to react to the spread of COVID-19 in Africa: “Local governments are the guardians of international solidarity. They are the best place to defend multilateralism and international cooperation, even when national governments are lagging behind.”

Mbassi stressed that the lockdown is “a disaster for the informal sector”, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where very little support can be given from national governments. Only the solidarity from people and local governments are actually addressing the issue.

He was also deeply concerned by the direct financial impacts of the crisis on citizens. He asked the EU to channel funds to municipalities and regions as soon as possible. “Decentralised cooperation is key to help share experiences and practices to solve not only the immediate crisis but also the aftermath of the outbreak, which will require lot of efforts on both social, institutional and economic levels”, Mbassi added.

“Local governments are very reactive”

Kelmend Zajazi, Executive Director of NALAS, emphasised that the exchange of experience between local and regional governments is essential. He has weekly talks with towns and regions in southeast Europe on preventing the spread of COVID-19, but also to find solutions for daily needs of citizens: offering access to online public services, culture or education for example.

“Local governments are being very reactive, much faster than national governments. For example, a lot of cities have already decided to cut unnecessary financing to unblock funds for more urgent issues,” Zajazi said.

He also underlined the huge economic concern in southeast Europe on “the price to pay for the recovery period” when there could be dramatic consequences on citizens and decentralisation processes.

CEMR Secretary General Frédéric Vallier stressed that “this crisis should not annihilate the already achieved progress on the state of decentralisation in partner countries and in Europe”. He concluded: “We need to strengthen our links and capacities together across the globe and enhance together the role of local and regional elected officials”.

Decentralised cooperation first

MEP Mónica Silvana González, member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE), concluded the webinar by stating that she will make sure that local and regional governments have a central role in the EU’s next long-term budget (MFF) and the new financial instrument for development (NDICI). She explained that the COVID-19 outbreak could be seen as “an opportunity” to include elements in the MFF negotiation that previously would not have been possible.

She announced that, at the next DEVE Committee meeting on Tuesday 21 April, she will directly ask European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen how she intends maintain a central role for local governments and decentralised cooperation in the “Team Europe” initiative. She finally stressed that Latin America should not be forgotten in the EU’s response, including countries that no longer qualify for Official Development Aid (ODA).

For more information

Leveraging migrants’ contribution to the emergency and protecting the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis

#BeyondTheOutbreak
Barcelona, Spain and Nairobi Kenya, 20 April 2020

As the level of government that is closest to citizens, local and regional governments bear the greatest responsibility for “leaving no one behind”, regardless of people’s legal status.

The Live Learning Series hosted by UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat, has brought together more than 1,000 participants over the course of six sessions in which participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, and partners from civil society shared their experiences, initiatives, and actions to support their communities facing the pandemic through the provision of key basic services.

The Live Learning Session that took place on April 16, organized in collaboration with the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration (MC2CM) project, addressed the relevance of inclusive responses to the pandemic. During the session, local governments from different regions of the world also shared their aspirations for the future. Mayors and vice mayors from cities that are contributing towards changing the narrative on migration such as Eric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble, Mounir Elloumi, Mayor of Sfax, Mohamed Sadiki, Mayor of Rabat, Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa, Gissela Chalá, Vice Mayor of Quito, Latif Karadag, Vice Mayor of Gaziantep, were joined by Spyros Oikonomou, Greek Council for Refugees, and UCLG’s and UN-Habitat’s key partners in regards to migration such as Michael Spindelegger, Director General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, highlighted the opportunity that local and regional governments have to change the mainstream perception on migration, sharing stories about positive contributions by migrants and countering prejudice. The Executive Director of UN-Habitat further argued that “migrants need to be included in the recovery phase of the pandemic, and it is vital to include them in local planning processes. Solidarity is necessary to regain prosperity”.

The Executive Director of UN-Habitat reminded participants that cities are the major destination for migrants and must remain places of opportunities for all populations, further highlighting the important contributions of migrants to cities’ economic, social and cultural development. She stressed the need to put an end to segregation and foster social cohesion, stop rumours and counter the xenophobia that is spreading around the world.
Mohamed Boudra, Mayor of Al-Hoceima and President of UCLG, argued the pandemic that the world is currently experiencing will change our perceptions and strategies, and in particular regarding solidarity and migration. The mayors of the world are trying to adapt to the situation and meet the needs of their citizens at this time of a serious health crisis, he said and commended the service delivery provided by local and regional governments and the efforts of the whole of society in providing care to all citizens.

“Tomorrow we will no longer talk about migrants but about citizens of cities. Stranded tourists, migrant workers and undocumented migrants are experiencing the pandemic within host communities and they are being treated in the same way in the face of the pandemic.

Michael Spindelegger, Director General of ICMPD, affirmed that the first priority in this emergency situation should be to ensure rights of migrants and foster inclusive societies by enhancing trust and implementing evidence-based responses. The Director General of ICMPD said the input of cities was critical in ensuring inclusive measures in the quarantine phase.

The first part of the Live Learning Experience was a roundtable on how local and regional governments were responding to the need to reach out to local communities regardless of their legal status, their living or work conditions. It was moderated by Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG-Africa, who advocated for building cities of solidarity that contribute to a new perception of migrants.

Eric Piolle, Mayor of Grenoble, emphasized the rise of inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis may bring if measures are not taken and stressed the efforts of Grenoble to enhance access to services for all citizens by issuing local ID cards.

“The City of Grenoble is a land of refuge and safety and despite the crisis, we wish to bring this open-mindedness. Grenoble is an open city with an integrating philosophy that enables migrants to benefit from the local community through citizenship actions, access to participatory budgets, citizens’ councils, housing sports and cultural activities.”

read the rest of the press release here

Digital Technologies and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Barcelona, Spain and Nairobi Kenya, 16 April 2020

  • Covid-19 distancing policies are accelerating the digital transition. Yet even in the wealthiest cities vulnerable people are often not connected.
  • Access to the internet and digital public services now being seen as on essential for dignified living, leaving no one behind. Cities are at the forefront to balance the equality of services, performance, accessibility, choice, security and rights of all citizens.
    The 5th Live Learning meeting was again hosted by UCLG, Metropolis and UN-Habitat on April 15.

    The series started late March and has brought together over 1,000 participants from local and regional governments, the UN system, partners from the civil society and the private sector. Cities across the globe have shared their experiences, initiatives and actions in response to the pandemic. They also shared their frontline views on how cities may transform beyond the outbreak.

    The live learning session on Digital Technologies highlighted the role of new technologies during the pandemic and beyond. Mousa Hadid, Mayor of Ramallah, the Deputy Mayors of Barcelona, Laia Bonet, and Milan, Roberta Cocco, as well as representatives from Bogotá, New York City, Amsterdam, and Xi’an, together with partners from the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ITCs (C3ICT), and the Head of the Open Government Partnership Local took part in the session, introduced by Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, and Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of Eurocities.

    Maimunah Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, expressed her concern regarding the digital divide, and mentioned how cities and regions can contribute to ensuring that digitalisation leaves no-one and no place behind. On the principle of Human Rights First, also online, she commended the Coalition of Cities for Digital Rights on their work on advancing universal access to technology, data security, transparency, and non-discrimination.

    “Half the world’s population is connected to the internet – the other half is not,” she observed. “Existing inequalities in developed and developing countries will be widened further. Cities can do a lot to ensure that the digital revolution does not leave anyone or any place behind,” she said.

    The Executive Director of UN-Habitat also highlighted that it is time to look at the outcome of COVID-19 as “the new normal”, and how lockdown unlocks opportunities for introducing new technologies and for alternative ways of working.

    Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General of Eurocities, highlighted how the pandemic was showcasing new ways of working that had not been implemented at this scale until now, and warning that technology is not a fix-all solution, stated that: “We need to strike a balance. We need to make sure for the future that we watch out to ensure technologies won’t infringe people’s rights.”

    The first part of the session, aimed at showcasing digital actions undertaken by municipal governments from all over the world and how technology can be shaped by communities in the midst of the outbreak, was moderated by Francesca Bria, President of the Italian Innovation Fund, and UN-Habitat Adviser on People-Centred Smart Cities. The second part, facilitated by UCLG, highlighted the use on technology on the ground, and how the pandemic was affecting our daily lives.

    Laia Bonet, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, described how the city is reducing the digital divide, as a cornerstone of its broader efforts to guarantee universal public services, and how Barcelona had brought in the private sector.

    “We have witnessed the fact that digital technologies delineate social inequalities. What we are learning is important: if such inequalities can be addressed in a context of crisis, they can also be addressed after the outbreak. We should approach digitalization as a human rights issue”

    Privacy was one of the key issues, with Barcelona focusing on the management of data in the aftermath of the pandemic, and Roberta Cocco, Deputy Mayor of Milan, looking at how the city should support citizens through technology, but not if this posed a risk to rights. The concept of smart living beyond implementing tele-working was also introduced by Cocco, pointing to a full digital transformation having been started.

    “We put citizens at the very centre of our action plan. Digital technologies have been the backbone of our response, playing a fundamental role from delivering public services, to securing the basic necessities for those most in need. Now we are working on the tools and a robust digital inclusion strategy that will serve the reopening of our cities to make sure that no one will be left behind.”

    The City of Amsterdam argued against the concept of “techsolutionism”, and the idea that technology, in itself, is enough to combat the pandemic. It was further highlighted that it was critical to avoid false dichotomies between security and privacy by ensuring that the use and ownership and data are with public interest in mind. This sentiment was also echoed by Scott Campbell, representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who argued that, while technology is an enabler, it is up to governments at all levels to use technology in a way that can protect human rights. An all-of-government response to digitalization was called for by Amsterdam, and resonated as well with the Open Government Partnership, who called for a multi-stakeholder approach to address digitalization, and in particular to ensure that the data being accessed by companies and governments does not interfere with the rights of the individuals.

    An important aspect when addressing the digital divide is how it affects people with disabilities, with G3ICT stating that the recovery phase after the outbreak needs to ensure more accessibility as we move towards the digital era.

    Mousa Hadid, Mayor of Ramallah, argued that local and regional governments have a responsibility towards their citizens to guarantee safety, and stated that Ramallah had worked to ensure a response from day one and was already thinking about how technology could be used in rebuilding

    “We are seeing the engagement of people in the city though technology, and it is important to think about the aftermath, the day after the crisis finishes, we need to think about the psychological aspects, how we can use technology to service communities then.”

    read more here

  • Covid19: Statement by Mrs. Soham EL WARDINI, Mayor of the city of Dakar, Senegal, and Vice-President of the West Africa region of UCLG Africa

     

     

     

    Dear colleagues and friends – Mayors of the West African region!

    We are currently facing a global challenge, the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic, which has become a major concern. Now more than ever, we must join forces and strengthen our solidarity, particularly within our region. Africa must be united and fight against this virus and all the pessimistic projections regarding its evolution on our continent.

    I would like to commend the efforts made so far by each and every one of you to equip and equip the health services with care and protection equipment, raise awareness among the inhabitants of your various municipalities and communities about the risks of spreading the epidemic while supporting them in covering their basic needs, and carry out disinfection operations in public spaces and places open to the public. For all these efforts, I would like to encourage you in these difficult times when the budgets of local and regional authorities are under great strain.

    I am aware that many of our citizens are affected by the effects of this virus. I am also aware of the risk of an increase in domestic violence. Women as well as street children must be a strong concern in this period of crisis. The common enemy is the virus.

    African customs and traditions, our way of life and the high proportion of the informal economy mean that every infection is a danger for the whole community. We must therefore be cautious and determined to apply the guidelines of national governments and the World Health Organization protocol to prevent the spread of the virus. In doing so, we will save lives.

    For us to effectively coordinate our action, a multi-level leadership approach is needed – from local to global levels – where cities will play a key role in the fight to ensure a collective response. As Mayors we have the responsibility to “make society” on a daily basis, to face the pandemic by consolidating our modes of solidarity and preparing for the post-crisis period.

    I am attentive, dear colleagues and friends, to your concerns, your difficulties, your proposals and your good practices to consolidate our regional commitment.

    Together, we are stronger.

    WASHING OUR HANDS WITH SOAP – STAY AT HOME – PHYSICAL DISTANCING – SOCIAL SOLIDARITY – STAY SAFE!

    Mrs. Soham EL WARDINI, Mayor of the city of Dakar, Senegal, and Vice-President of the West Africa region of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).

    Wacth the video below 

    The economic impact of COVID-19 on African cities likely to be acute through a sharp decline in productivity, jobs and revenues, says ECA

    Addis Ababa, 15 April 2020 – As part of its analysis to inform COVID-19 policy responses, the Economic Commission for Africa, is calling for adequate consideration of the vulnerability of city economies as African governments consolidate efforts and define stimulus measures to mitigate national and regional economic impacts.

    “As engines and drivers of economic growth, cities face considerable risks in light of COVID-19 with implications for the continent’s resilience to the pandemic,” states Thokozile Ruzvidzo Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division of the ECA.

    Africa’s cities are home to 600 million people and account for more than 50% of the region’s GDP. This is even higher at more than 70% for countries such as Botswana, Uganda, Tunisia and Kenya.  Nearly a third of national GDP (31%) comes on average from the largest city in African countries. As such, the economic contribution of cities in the region is far higher than their share of population.

    COVID-19 employment effects are likely to be severe in urban areas. With urban-based sectors of the economy (manufacturing and services) which currently account for 64% of GDP in Africa are expected to be hit hard by COVID-19 related effects, leading to substantial losses in productive jobs. In particular, the approximately 250 million Africans in informal urban employment (excluding North Africa) will be at risk. Firms and businesses in African cities are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 related effects, especially SMEs which account for 80% of employment in Africa. These risks are compounded by a likely hike in the cost of living is expected as shown for example by some initial reports of up to 100% increase in the price of some food items in some African cities.

    Additionally, urban consumption and expenditure (of food, manufactured goods, utilities, transport, energy and services) is likely to experience a sharp fall in light of COVID-related lockdowns and reduced restrictions.

    “Africa’s cities drive consumption with their growing middle class with per capita consumption spending in large cities being on average 80 per cent higher at the city level than at the national level. COVID-19 related decline in urban consumption will thus impact domestic value chains, including rural areas,” notes Ms Ruzvidzo.

    Further, with the per capita expenditure of African local authorities being the lowest in the world at $26, many local authorities are poorly resourced and less able to contend with the onslaught of COVID-19. Alarming also the likely fall in revenue streams for local authorities due to COVID-19 curtailing their already limited ability to respond to this crisis. Intergovernmental/national transfers which account for 70 to 80 per cent of local authorities’ finance are likely to be reduced due to immediate national response and recovery requirements. Own source revenues which are already low at only 10% of local authorities’ finances with city level lockdowns and restrictions leading to reduced economic activity.

    Yet, local authorities are frontline responders to such shocks and crises. Given the proximity to their constituencies, local authorities are well positioned to and already do lead responses to some of the immediate effects, and doing so have a better understanding of needs and necessary measures, and enable higher transparency of accountability.

    In light of these circumstances, ECA is proposing specific support to city governments to mitigate and respond to the economic effects of COVID-19, in addition to the immediate health and humanitarian focus. Disaggregating the analysis and identification of priorities and responses at the sub-national and city scales is a first step.

    Proactive measures are also needed for urban economic recovery including through measures to boost finances and capacities of local authorities as first responders, short-term bailouts and exemptions for SMEs to limit productivity and employment losses, social protection for those in informal urban employment while anticipating the potential of labour intensive public work programs for job creation in the medium term. In this regard, Ms. Ruzvidzo emphasizes that “local governments must be supported because they are better able to respond to local needs including in coordination with community-based structures”.

    In the longer term, the acute vulnerability of city economies calls for efforts to revitalize and enhance the productivity of Africa’s cities through adequate investments to address the substantial deficits and barriers they face. With more than half of Africa’s population expected to live in cities in just 15 years, the risks of poorly planned and managed urbanization are considerably high, rendering millions vulnerable to the effects of future shocks.

    Issued by:

    Communications Section
    Economic Commission for Africa
    PO Box 3001
    Addis Ababa
    Ethiopia
    Tel: +251 11 551 5826
    E-mail: eca-info@un.org