Unhealthy and overcrowded cities before the pandemic have made urban areas “incubators” for Covid-19, according to an Asian Development Bank (AfDB) official.
In a blog on Asian development, AfDB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said it had caused suffering to millions of poor and informal workers.
This justifies finding ways for developing countries in Asia to help cities rebuild better and “build better ahead” to adjust to the new normal, Susantono said.
“Cities today face many challenges. They include rapid urbanization, aging societies, infrastructure deficits, climate change and disaster risk. Long before Covid-19, many urban areas were already overcrowded, dangerous and unsanitary, ”Susantono said.
“They provided the virus with a natural incubator. Poor and informal workers were particularly vulnerable, without financial means or access to formal social protection systems, such as those linked to unemployment, ”he added.
Susantono said cities must use risk-sensitive land use management, nature-based solutions, circular economy and low-carbon practices to “build better” in a post-era era. pandemic.
Ultimately, Susantono said cities in the region must become “greener, more inclusive, more competitive and more resilient” after the pandemic.
“Urban infrastructure and services have struggled to keep up with Asia’s transformation over the past 50 years. But in today’s world and to provide a better world for future generations, falling behind is no longer an option, ”said Susantono.
He offered six recommendations on how cities can achieve this. The first is to focus on inclusion by strengthening social protection and standardizing urban services for all.
Susantono said cities have become home to all kinds of people, including women, the elderly, the poor and the disabled. This means that their special needs must also be taken into account in urban areas.
Another recommendation, said Susantono, is that cities provide urban services and infrastructure that use the best available technologies as well as digital solutions.
It means turning to technological solutions to deliver services such as water; stimulate the collection, valuation and planning of property taxes; and use urban planning when building infrastructure.
At the same time, Susantono said, urban planning systems should incorporate lessons from the pandemic. This is his third recommendation for urban areas.
“This helps cities plan for better resilience against future shocks by providing open public spaces and green corridors, and creating affordable housing, especially for poor, vulnerable and returning migrant workers,” Susantono said.
“The revival of sustainable tourism and urban planning taking into account the risks for low-carbon development, environmental protection and disaster risk management are also priorities for most cities in the region”, a- he added.
Susantono said his fourth recommendation is on financial sustainability and strengthening governance capacity. Cities, he said, must maximize their income – one of the lessons of the pandemic, he stressed.
Covid-19 has exposed cities’ financial weaknesses and, Susantono said, they must address them by adopting transparent, accountable, consistent and consistent responses to shocks and stresses.
Another recommendation is that cities build healthy and environmentally sustainable urban areas. Cities should conduct health impact assessments; prepare age-friendly plans; and implement efforts that promote health and sustainable environments.
He said that an age-friendly city means being able to provide home care and use smart health platforms. It is also important for cities to create green spaces as well as multimodal and inclusive transport systems, especially for older people and children.
His final recommendation is that cities be more resilient through the creation of disaster management plans. This should include efforts to become more energy efficient while providing access to heating and air conditioning for vulnerable groups.