Weekly Urban News Update
May 22, 2020
In This Update: 
Cyclone Amphan Lands in India and Bangladesh, Devastates Kolkata
Cape Town is the Center of COVID-19 in Africa
The Post-Covid-19 Urban Challenges in Africa
In Colombian Cities, Hugnry Residents Hang Red Flags Outside of Their Windows
How Seoul Contained COVID-19 Without a Lockdown
Rio de Janeiro Sees Record Year of Police Shootings
UN-Habitat and the WHO Launch Sourcebook On Integrating Health in Urban Planning
In the News And Around the Web
Cyclone Amphan Lands in India and Bangladesh, Devastates Kolkata
On Wednesday, Cyclone Amphan landed on the Indian-Bangladesh border and killed over eighty in both countries. The Indian city of Kolkata bore the brunt of the cyclone's damage, which rendered hundreds of thousands homeless and fourteen million without power. Coronavirus lockdown restrictions and social distancing have hindered emergency rescue and recovery efforts as emergency shelters are unable to hold to full capacity. In turn, the disaster has impeded virus containment efforts as it has forced people to prioritize seeking shelter over staying at home.  The return of large numbers of migrant workers from other cities has further strained Kolkata's resources. The economic fallout of lockdown restrictions forced return to Kolkata as many became unnemployed and homeless.

Read more here.
Cape Town is the Center of COVID-19 on the African Continent
Cape Town has become the center of COVID-19 in South Africa and on the African continent. The city has confirmed 12,000 cases which comprises 63% of South Africa's 19,000 cases and 10% of Africa's 95,000 cases. Khayelithsa, a shantytown home to 500,000, is one of the city's hot spots. The virus has spread rapidly there because lack of clean water and overcrowding in the settlement make it difficult to practice preventative measures like handwashing and social distancing. The Cape Town outbreak has surprised experts who now anticipate that Cape Town cases will peak in June as compared to the rest of the country, expected to peak in August or September. 

Read more here.
The Post-Covid-19 Urban Challenges in Africa
At Africa Watch, Daniel Biau examines urban challenges facing Africa post-COVID-19 pandemic. Biau points out that COVID-19 is an urban disease and cites the UN-Habitat statistic that 95% of the world's population diagnosed with the virus resides in urban areas. He argues that African cities must promote urban density and soft mobility, unleash the untapped entrepreneurial potential of the informal sector and ensure its resilience, and develop early warning systems. According to Biau, these critical issues demonstrate that supporting healthier cities is part of the "wider 'sustainable cities' development paradigm." He urges African governments to revisit urban polices based on lessons learned from COVID-19 to better prepare urban resilience for the next crisis.

Read more here.
In Colombian Cities, Hungry Residents Hang Red Flags Outside Their Windows
In Colombian cities, residents are hanging colored flags on their windows to demonstrate they are in need of food. Fewer coronavirus cases have emerged in Colombia compared to many of its Latin American neighbors. Nonetheless, its lockdown has devastated the economy, particularly the informal sector, and pushed large numbers of people into acute food insecurity.  Florencia Mayor Luis Antonio Ruiz said the city government is distributing food to those in need, but that the city itself needs more assistance from the federal government. Ruize explained: "We can't take care of everyone without the central government helping. We can't ask people to stay in their homes when they are hungry."

Read more here.
How Seoul Contained COVID-19 Without a Lockdown
As of May 15th, Seoul, a city of 52 million, had recorded 725 coronavirus cases and 4 coronavirus-related deaths, numbers far fewer than most cities worldwide. At  City Fix, Vijay Jagannathan explains that Seoul  contained the virus through widespread testing and rigorous contact tracing, bolstered by government transparency. Government steps to build trust  through transparency with Seoul residents proved especially important given that many actions taken to halt the spread intruded upon individual privacy. Furthermore, following the 2015 MERS outbreak in Seoul, the government invested in pandemic preparedness and enacted laws  that would allow the city to rapidly deploy testing kits and aggressive contract tracing in the face of a future crisis.

Read more here.
A Record Year of Police Shootings in Rio de Janeiro
In Rio de Janeiro, 1,184 people were killed by the police in 2019, the highest annual report on record for police shootings in the city. Last Friday, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, police killed thirteen people in an ambush operation. A New York Times investigation found that police officers, protected by police leadership and politicians, often shoot suspected criminals without restraint and fear of prosecution. The investigation found that out of 48 examined police killings, half of the officers involved were previously charged with a crime. This included one quarter that were previously charged with murder. Political leadership has expressed support for aggressive police tactics. Notably, B razilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared that criminals should "die in the streets like cockroaches."

Read more here.
UN-Habitat and the WHO Launch Sourcebook on Integrating Health in Urban Planning
This week, UN-Habitat and the World Health Organization launched the sourcebook, "Integrating Health in Urban and Territorial Planning." The sourcebook aims to help urban leaders and health and planning professionals address the health dimension of sustainable development across cities and regions. It further aims to help national governments, local authorities, planning professionals, civil society organizations, and health professionals reduce and manage communicable and noncommunicable disease by promoting health, disease prevention, and better health equity through good UTP. The sourcebook includes resources, tools, advocacy frameworks, appraisals, and analysis.

Read more here.
In The News and Around the Web
  • COVID-19 Threatens to Rollback Progress on Global Poverty Alleviation: According to the World Bank, COVID-19 could push as many as 60 million into extreme poverty.
  • Brazil Coronavirus Cases Hit Record High:  Brazil hit a national record high for coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
  • Detroit's Winning Spirit National Geographic spotlights on why the history and culture of Detroit matters for its fight against coronavirus. 
  • Why Culture Matters in Ending COVID-19 Lockdowns: The diversity of peoples and cultures means there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for exiting lockdowns.
Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday where lockdown restrictions were lifted weeks ago. 
(Photo credit Linh Pham/Getty Images)
The ongoing COVID 19 crisis underscores the vital importance of livable cities and decent living conditions globally. The mobility of diseases within and between urban centers adn across borders is sadly demonstrated by the current pandemic. Now more than ever, we need your financial support and your voice to bring about change. Decent living conditions for one billion people worldwide is a fundamental building block of future resilience and pandemic preparedness.

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