International exchange of experiences: lessons learned in the Covid-19 crisis

Cities worldwide are still experiencing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout all their municipal departments. In addition to public health care, municipal services must be maintained during the crisis. Local governments must also ensure their own ability to function properly. Some consequences of the pandemic, such as halting economic development, hit local authorities first. Municipalities are currently having to learn to cope with new situations very fast. But the crisis has also shown how important the resilience of municipalities is: this directly applies to local crisis management and disaster preparedness as well as the need for continually adaptive urban planning and development towards increasing the resilience of cities. The current crisis has shown and proven once again that resilience is an essential capacity of municipalities.

From August to December 2020, the international community of practice for sustainable urban development Connective Cities organised a series of virtual exchange formats on measures, challenges, and solutions to overcome the corona crisis in cooperation with engaged urban practitioners (municipal experts as well as local experts from academia, civil society and business). The series of virtual exchange events targeted German and international urban practitioners working on various aspects of municipal strategies to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Presentations of good practice examples encouraged the participating stakeholders to exchange ideas.

Virtual Global Exchange "Municipal Response to COVID-19" from 23rd November to 3rd December 2020

Report on the compact two-week exchange within the series of events

During the first week, urban practitioners and experts from different municipalities, the civil society, business and academia, presented a total of 56 Good Practices in 18 sessions and gave insights into their experienced challenges and local solutions. The second week focused on concrete applications with hands-on exercises such as using social media, digital tools, and planning virtual meetings. 
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Let's continue the Virtual Global Exchange!

After such an intense exchange of expertise full of personal stories, we decided to capture Good Practices in different formats.  

In 2021, we will continue to introduce you to the people and communities behind some of the projects and good practices to mitigate COVID-19 that have been and are being shared in our network.

Videos about Municipal Response to COVID-19

"Collective ideas of many people can take us even further. I think it’s so important to collaborate at this time."

In our Grand Season Finale, Harinjaka from Anatananarivo, Madagascar,  tells us how the wisdom of his ancestors made sense during this pandemic.

Interview with Henning Schulz: Digitalisation

"You should develop your own digital agenda. It always individual to your city."

Gütersloh, Deutschland a paper-based municipality that developed its own digital agenda within three years and moved online and into home offices within very few days.  Henning Schulz, its former mayor, tells us how did they made it in an organized way.

Interview with Hugo Salomão França: Crisis Communication

"Our technical-scientific way instead of political management was a fundamental approach during this period, and Belo Horizonte owes its good results so far to it."
Bem-vindo to Belo Horizonte, Brasil, a city that communicates to its own citizens and also helps partner cities and organizations worldwide.  Learn how Hugo Salomão França and his team helped to make sense of this unprecedent situation.


Interview with Lutfi Haziri: Crisis Management

"Gjilan has some sort of experience with emergency situations because we are a post-conflict country and we are living in a seismic area."
Meet Lutfi Haziri, mayor of Gjilan, Kosovo, that came up with immediate measures to control borders in order to prevent the COVID-19 arrival to his small country.

Interview with Ahmad Zeyad: Public Health and Crisis Management

"You should always trust and believe in your own capabilities to combat crisis and raise the resilience of your own city."
Avoid bureaucracy, gather verified urban data and rely on your own strengths - watch through Ahmad Zeyad what it took to reduce infection rates in Amman, Jordan.

Interview with Awande Buthelezi: Crisis Management/Digitalisation

"There is a gap between how municipalities and the state provide services and the experiences of people on the ground."

Awande Buthelezi from Johannesburg, South Africa, shows how did he and his NGO handled to know who was in need of essential supplies such as water when there was no existing data about the precise locations.

Interview with Rami Kanaan: Digitalisation and Public Health

"We monitored in real-time the locations where the virus was spreading, both the people in confinement and the infected ones, to intensify desinfections operations."
Hazmieh, Lebanon, a city located at the entrance of Beirut. Rami Kanaan, a proud Lebanese, told us how to control infection chains to prevent the virus from spreading and how can police and ambulances profit from this.

Interview with Faola Hodaj on Innovation Ecosystems

Tirana, Albania, is a potential hub for StartUp enthusiasts with a young and multi-lingual population. Learn through Faola Hodaj, Director of Innovation at Municipality of Tirana, how did the municipality reflect this innovative spirit through its services and response to the pandemic.


Interview with Daniel Onyango on Crisis Communication

"Indigenous knowledge and skills and the ability of communities to respond to crisis is something that has been neglected." Nairobi, Kenia, a troubled place that woke up Daniel Onyango and friends’ creativity to rose awareness for the safety measures. He lives in one of the biggest informal settlement of the capital where people did not understand the magnitude of COVID-19.


Interview with Leila Ben Gacem: Social Innovation

"I think as city councillors we need to think as social entrepreneurs."
Beni Khalled, Tunisia, a city famous for its citrus farms, is home of Leila Ben Gacem, social entrepreneur and as elected city councillor head of the Finance Committee. The brave woman worked late hours throughout the first lockdown in order to coordinate volunteers, health companies and municipal activities through social entrepreneurship skills.


Podcast with Dr. Lardo Stander: Economic Response and Housing

"The social compact is critical in order to respond quickly and appropriately to future pandemics." Economic modelling to better understand crisis scenarios; mapping vulnerable groups for targeted help. Dr. Lardo Stander from Pretoria, South Africa, told us how did they deal with the South African slums’ economic and housing problems during lockdown.


Podcast with Nadia Odjo: Smart Schooling

"We learned to use what we have." Listen to Nadia Odjo, a SmartSchooling natural from Jacmel, Haiti, and founder of the B.R.I.T.E Initiative. She implemented distance learning at her school by her own besides a disconnected community that even had problems setting up e-mail accounts.


Podcast with Magnolia Vega: Crisis Communication

Learn through Magnolia Vega, communication officer in a district of Bogotá, how to keep informed 7 million citizens during the pandemics and how to orchestrate between 60 communication officers - in a very personal effort - to unify their message under one brand.


Podcast with Armin Berger: Digital Innovation

Welcome to Berlin, where thousands of artists lost their stages because of lockdown. Learn how Armin Berger got support from the senator of culture and how good ideas emerged during breakfast to fill Berlin with new life: Berlin(a)Live


Podcast with Salih Mahmod on Public Health Innovation

Meet Salih Mahmod, a young Iraqi that rebuilt his Mosul Space entirely after ISIS left Mosul and knew what to do after the hospitals in his city lost their medical supplies in the middle of the pandemic.


Kiel: Entrepreneurship and Digitalisation

We traveled to Kiel, where we captured deep insights from a city that, as a digital champion, had to adapt quickly. How do you keep your StartUp community alive if people cannot meet personally?


Weimar: Economic response to COVID-19

Weimar, a city that attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. Watch how did the local city guides, hoteliers and small shop owners react to the lockdown? And what did the local authorities do?


Hazmieh, Lebanon

Strategic Prepardness and Response Plan Using GIS

The video shows how the city of Hazmieh was enabled to obtain a fully functional Geographic Information System (GIS) and how GIS played the main role in increasing significantly the municipality's yearly income. Now, the strategic preparedness via GIS allowed the immediate planning and execution of an emergency plan against COVID-19...


Beni-Khalled, Tunisia

Beni-Khalled is a city of about 26.000 inhabitants in the North-East of Tunisia. COVID-19 led to an unknown wave of solidarity. For the first time, all association and NGOs there united for a successful funding campaign to equip regional hospitals and healthcare workers with protective equipment and clothing. Young people volunteered to ensure security measures in public areas and to provide food for lock-downed and elderly people…


Amman, Jordan

"The only constant thing is change."
Dr. Mervat Al Muheirat, Deputy City Manager for Health and Agriculture, explains her response plan to COVID-19 for the Jordanian capital and its successful implementation. Amman is home to about 50% of the Jordanian population. In the meantime, most of the restrictions have been gradually lifted.


Hazmieh, Lebanon

Excellent in fighting COVID-19
As a result of the successful measures, there have so far been only nine cases tested positive in this city of approx. 50,000 inhabitants. The recipe for success: a comprehensive but composed communication strategy, 100% compliance of the population with the measures, extensive disinfection measures, and monitoring and tracking of all measures through an innovative GIS-based database according to the latest state of the art.


Good Practices

Amman - strengthening social responsibility


With a prudent vision, the Greater Amman Municipality implemented several hard and soft measures to curb the impact of…


Reviews of selected virtual exchanges

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Covid-19: The local implementation of vaccination strategies and related communication in municipalities

Covid-19: The local implementation of vaccination strategies and related communication in municipalities


Review of the virtual expert exchange on March 22nd and 25th, 2021

Documentations of dialogue events

Improving efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of water, wastewater management and urban mobility services

07/09/2020 to 14/09/2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed what was known to be normal. In the new normal, Connective Cities has also…


News about COVID-19

News about COVID-19

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Municipal experts wanted: Dialogue event on Covid-19 and urban mobility

Municipal experts wanted: Dialogue event on Covid-19 and urban mobility


Impacts of the pandemic and prospects for a post-pandemic future

Covid-19: The local implementation of vaccination strategies and related communication in municipalities

Covid-19: The local implementation of vaccination strategies and related communication in municipalities


Review of the virtual expert exchange on March 22nd and 25th, 2021

Cooperation in the MENA network picks up speed

Cooperation in the MENA network picks up speed


City of Hazmieh is leading and backing up municipal peers in development. Energy efficiency…

Municipal Response to COVID-19 in the Area of Governance

Municipal Response to COVID-19 in the Area of Governance


Review of the virtual expert exchange on March 12, 2021

Being prepared in times of crisis

Being prepared in times of crisis


How volunteers are fighting Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya’s urban slums

Are we on track for a green recovery? Not Yet

Are we on track for a green recovery? Not Yet


One year from the onset of the pandemic, recovery spending has fallen short of nations’ commitments…

Interview with Harinjaka Ratozamanana: Innovation Ecosystems

Interview with Harinjaka Ratozamanana: Innovation Ecosystems


"Collective ideas of many people can take us even further. I think it’s so important to collaborate…

Interview with Henning Schulz: Digitalisation

Interview with Henning Schulz: Digitalisation


"You should develop your own digital agenda. It always individual to your city."