The event will showcase lessons learned from a recent partnership with the World Bank, Slum Dwellers International (SDI), local SDI affiliates and Cities Alliance to collect slum-level data in eight cities.

Cities and communities around the world are facing extreme challenges in this unprecedent times of coronavirus pandemic. With limited vaccine available for COVID-19, prevention through containment and social distancing, along with frequent hand washing, appear to be, for now, the only viable strategies against the virus in developing world. But the challenge is particularly amplified in slums, where crowding and lack of or shared access to basic services such as improved water, sanitation, waste collection and so on, can exacerbate COVID 19 contagion risk.


In some ways, where you live within a city and who you are, define your level of exposure and risk to COVID-19 contagion. 


Most people living in slum communities are daily wage earners in the informal sector, with irregular income and insecure jobs. It is harder for them to practice social distancing, nor can they afford it.  When COVID-19 pandemic was compounded with other shocks (such as disaster, climate-change, forced displacement, conflict and more) in last 18 months, it amplified the disproportionate impact of pandemic on the urban poor.

The spatial inequality gap is widening. It is important to identify the most vulnerable groups in advance, so that they can be supported to weather the storm. With COVID-19 pandemic posed to push additional 88 million to 150 million people into extreme poverty, there is an immediate need for swift, significant, and substantial policy action. Many of the new poor will be in countries that already have high poverty rates. 

Last year, World Bank’s Global Practice of Urban, Resilience and Land (GPURL) had developed a rapid deployment tool to quickly identify COVID-19 contagion risk hotspots, where risk of exposure and community contagion is likely to be high. Since most publicly available data sources at city-level lack disaggregated data on slums, the World Bank partnered with Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Cities Alliance to collect real-time geo-spatial and qualitative data for select priority slums in eight cities across Africa and South Asia: Accra, Bhubaneshwar, Freetown, Kisumu, Kampala, Mumbai, Nairobi and Pune.

The project followed a flexible and phased approach to adapt to the fluid situation during the data collection phase. Initial delays due to lockdown and other challenges provided an opportunity to improve digital skills of local affiliates of SDI. A small World Bank team of geo-spatial experts, customized and delivered geo-spatial training series, creating an additional chain of mappers/volunteers/slum dwellers in each of the cities.

Despite the unique challenges posed by the pandemic in each of the select cities, this project was a successful collaboration. SDI local affiliates have collected granular real-time dataset on priority slums. Updated COVID-19 risk hotspot maps re-emphasized that slums are the hotspots of contagion and access to services is extremely limited and of poor quality. Focus group discussions and geospatial data on access to basic services, highlighted the plethora of challenges within slums, compounded risks, and wide-ranging impact of COVID-19 on slum dwellers.

This event brings together the project's partners and urban practitioners to discuss the main results and lessons learned. 

Join the meeting on Zoom (Meeting ID: 950 9655 2594 - Passcode: Easypass2@)



Opening Remarks and Introduction:

  • Sameh Wahba, Global Director, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, World Bank
  • Sheela Patel, Founder and Director of Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC), SDI India
  • Maitreyi B Das, Practice Manager, SURGP, World Bank


  • Sheela Patel, Founder and Director of Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC), SDI India
  • Jane Weru (Executive Director and founder member of Akiba Mashinani Trust and Board Member of SDI)
  • Killion Nyambuga, Slum Dwellers International, Kenya
  • Smruti Jukur, SPARC, India
  • Swati Sachdeva, Urban Specialist (ET Consultant) World Bank
  • David Satterthwaite, (Senior Fellow, IIED)

 Panel Discussion: 

  • Greg Munro (Director, Cities Alliance)
  • Sarah Nandudu (Vice Chairperson of the NSDFU and Deputy Chair of the Board of SDI)
  • David Satterthwaite (Senior Fellow, IIED)
  • Rogier Van der Berg (WRI Acting Global Director)
  • Martha Chen (Co-Founder/International Coordinator, WEIGO)

 Concluding Remarks:

  • Joseph Muturi, Global Chair of Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • Maitreyi B Das, Practice Manager, SURGP, World Bank