More than 30 municipal representatives from around 20 cities in MENA and Sub-Sharan Africa participated in the second virtual event of the knowledge-exchange series on Municipal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Municipal representatives from both political and technical levels were invited and they engaged in knowledge-exchange to analyse and discuss practical examples of municipal response related to provision of urban basic services such as water and solid waste management.
In this virtual event, four good practices were shared from Irbid, Greater Amman, Zletin (Libya) and a national overview from South Africa. The moderated plenary session provided an opportunity for discussion between the presenters and the participants but also get to hear of challenges and initiatives from other municipalities in line with what has been presented. The participants were then encouraged to continue with the exchange on the virtual platform where other resources will be shared in addition to the session outputs.
Mr. Mohamad Alawneh from Irbid municipality presented the challenges and lessons learned during the pandemic in light of provision of solid waste management and sanitation services. Whilst the district has 96% of water supply coverage, there is no conventional sewer network and instead majority have constructed septic tanks. With the lock downs, the district has experienced an increase in overflowing septic tanks and this poses a public health hazard. The changes in daily routines are altering the amount and type of waste generated from households and public places with potential threats from pathogens and other infectious waste to the workers. The limited budget allocation has also inhibited improvement of the sanitation chain.
Mr. Meqdad Rabab’a, representing Greater Amman municipality, presented the municipal plan to digitalize SWM system and optimize the system with smart solutions. The implemented smart solutions are expected to increase the efficiency of the waste collection fleet through shortening the routes ultimately reducing the GHG emissions. This project is part of an overarching project by Amman’s city lab that aims at developing a national GIS and compiling big data for urban planning.
Dr. Taha Wali and Mr. Belkacem Al Awaj, representatives of Zletin municipality in Libyia, have presented the response measures implemented by the municipality including the emergency response plan and managing solid-waste management and treatment of wastewater during the pandemic.
Ms. Nomkita Fani presented an overview of the impact of Covid-19 in South Africa highlighting that even with over 60% coverage of municipal services (water, sanitation, solid waste management and electricity), the pandemic has heightened the inequality of service provision in some areas. She acknowledged that there are insufficient funds to deal with mitigation during such pandemics. Operation and maintenance deficiencies also exacerbated the inadequate service provision. The pandemic has however, provided an opportunity to evaluate the operations of municipalities including but not limited to focus on the informal settlements where they are currently providing temporal services. They also have to reprioritize the infrastructure grants so as to meet immediate needs in provision of service and applying agility in planning.
Sanitation and Solid Waste Management in Al Taibah Al Jadidah Municipality
Mr. Mohamad Alawneh; Irbid Municipality
Amman: Sustainable Urbanization and Resource Efficiency
Mr. Meqdad Rabab’a; Greater Amman Municipality
A guide to the emergency plan for managing the Corona crisis in the municipality of Zliten (in Arabic)
Dr. Taha Wali and Mr. Belkacem Al Awaj; Zletin Municipality in Libya
Ms. Nomkita Fani; Director for the Intermediate Cities and Spatial Planning, Department of Cooperative Governance
The input given and discussions thereafter confirmed that urban basic services; the provision or lack thereof has a huge impact on combating Covid-19. They also highlighted that many municipalities still fall short in coverage hence the need to restrategize and even innovate ways in which they would achieve access by all. The lock-downs and scarce resources have inhibited effective service delivery. The increased use of medical equipment especially by the public has posed a new challenge in management of waste as this poses potential infections from used masks and tissues.
In order to follow through with the initiatives in the municipalities, Connective Cities is organizing a series of virtual knowledge-exchange events for municipalities to share their challenges and interventions in the provision of these basic services.