When Covid-19 struck, urban poor communities around the world were hit hardest. The pandemic's unprecedented social and economic impacts exposed the vulnerability of people living in slums, and the urgency of providing them with immediate assistance and building their resilience to prepare for future shocks. 

Cities Alliance responded rapidly to the crisis. In partnership with its member Slum Dwellers International (SDI), and with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), it put together a programme to support civil society organizations working in informal settlements across 19 countries. 

Covid-19 Response Programme, SDI Sida Phase 1, Botswana 2

Phase I (2020-2021) - Responding to shocks: 
The Covid-19 Response Programme supported civil society groups to respond to the social, economic, and health impacts of the pandemic in informal settlements. The programme was implemented in 17 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, to enhance the overall resilience of slum organisations and communities during the crisis and strengthen their capacity and systems for preparedness in the face of other emergencies.

Covid-19 Response Programme, SDI Sida Phase 1, Senegal 2

Phase II (2022–2024) - Recovery and rebuilding activities: 
Covid-19 Recovery Programme supports communities in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and building resilient environments. The two-year programme builds on the achievements of Phase I. It will be implemented in 16 countries across the same regions covered in the previous phase.  

Adobestock_335546424, Person washing hands, Credit: Courageadobestock.com

The Covid-19 Challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic affected excessively the 1 billion urban poor living in informal settlements. They have faced increased difficulties such as a lack of access to basic services, inadequate housing, and a decline in wages. 

Authorities tried to control the pandemic by restricting the movement of people. This disrupted severely economic activities and pushed masses of people into poverty. Most governments in the developing world have not managed to provide safety nets after the loss of incomes and livelihoods caused by Covid-19 restrictions. 

Economies in the Global North began to reopen in 2021 with the increase in vaccination rates. Meanwhile, the low vaccine access has prolonged consequences of Covid-19 in many developing countries. 

Scope of the Programme

Cities Alliance has awarded grants to local NGOs to support federations of urban poor within the SDI network in Benin, Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, India, and the Philippines.