COVID-19 will hit the developing world’s cities hardest. Here’s why

Published in World Economic Forum

By Robert Muggah

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought some of the world’s wealthiest global cities to their knees. In the current epicentre, New York, roughly one-fifth of all residents are infected and more than 20,000 have died. London has reported more than 55,000 cases and 6,000 fatalities. Yet the spread and impacts of the disease are an even greater threat to poorer cities and slums in developing countries.

Informal settlements like Orangi Town in Karachi, Payatas in Manila, Kibera in Nairobi, or Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro have witnessed a silent surge in infections. Without proper interventions, they could become urban morgues. Combined with heavy-handed lockdowns and rising food prices, steep rises in excess deaths and social unrest could follow.

 

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