More than 40 municipal representatives from around 30 cities in MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa and Germany participated in the first 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 to the pandemic in the field of public health and municipal administrative processes. The webinar provided the space for an exchange of experience on how to plan, manage and evaluate effective measures to curb the impacts of the pandemic.
As part of the first virtual event, four good practices from Hazmieh (Lebanon), Amman (Jordan), Tangier (Maghreb), and Beni Khalled (Tunisia) were presented. Following the presentations, a moderated plenary session provided the space for a discussion between the participants and the presenters. In addition, participating municipal representatives were invited to continue their exchange of experience in virtual working groups created on the Connective Cities virtual platform. Overall, the following set of questions were addressed by the presenters:
Hazmieh Municipality, Lebanon - excellent in fighting COVID-19 (video at Youtube, in Arabic with English subtitles)
Mr. Jean Al-Asmar, Mayor of Hazmieh municipality
Municipality of Hazmieh, Mount Lebanon - Strategic Prepardness and Response Plan Using GIS (video at Youtube, in English)
Eng. Ramy Kanaan , GIS expert, Hazmieh municipality (video)
Amman Municipality, Jordan - the response to CORVID-19 (video at Youtube, in Arabic with English subtitles)
Greater Amman Municipality preventive measures to tackle the COVID-19 (ppt in english)
Dr. Mervat Al-Muheirat, Deputy city manager for medical affairs at Greater Amman Municipality
Tangier municipality in the face of the Corona pandemic (ppt in Arabic)
Dr. Jamal Bakhat
Beni-Khalled, Tunisia - Municipal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (video at Youtube, in English)
Ms. Leila Ben Gacem, Beni-Khalled municipality
The presentations revealed that the public health legal framework and the WHO guidelines were evoked to enforce measures that reduce the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, the pandemic has revealed shortcomings in municipal capacities to overcome its implications. Investing in digitalizing municipal administrative processes, IT systems as well as the overall healthcare infrastructure is being prioritized by many localities. Countries have also applied a combination of measures and technologies to monitor and control the situation at both the local and national levels.
The discussion also revealed that the level of preparedness of cities and their capacities to combat the pandemic varied drastically. Cities that have robust governance and health infrastructure were more capable to manage the pandemic and have registered lower fatality rates. Furthermore, adopting a combination of proactive surveillance, routine communication, rapid isolation and personal and community protection (e.g. social distancing) measures have proven to be among the most impactful measures adopted by localities in combatting the outbreak of the pandemic.
As part of the follow-up activities, a virtual workshop on the topic of strategic preparedness and response plan using GIS will be organized. A virtual event that focuses on the role of civil society in supporting municipal response to COVID-19 pandemic will also be organized in the frame of Connective Cities' virtual event series.