The United Nations has revealed in a Policy Brief that the urban areas have become the ‘epicentre’ of Covid-19 as they host an estimated 90 percent of all reported cases worldwide.

Development Diaries understands that with factors such as high levels of crime and violence, poor infrastructure and housing, weak local governance with ill-equipped or under-resourced frontline workers, urban areas might find it more challenging to address the crisis and it could have a ripple effect on other issues such as safety of women, making them more vulnerable to violence and abuse.

‘This is because women are more likely to be employed in the informal sector with less access to social protection. Across the globe, they are generally earning less, saving less, and also holding less secure jobs. They have less capacity than men to absorb economic shocks’, Programme Management Officer at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mariastefania Senese, said.

The UN, in the report, said, ‘Covid-19 shutdown measures in urban areas have had economic impacts far beyond their boundaries. Urban economies account for approximately 80 percent of global GDP. Hours worked across all countries and regions are estimated to have fallen by 14 percent in the second quarter of 2020 relative to the last quarter of 2019, which is equivalent to a loss of 400 million full-time jobs.

‘Globally, the effects have been especially severe in the informal sector, which represents 90 percent and 67 percent of total employment in low and middle-income countries respectively’.

Reacting to the report, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, called for comprehensive measures to address the challenges faced by urban sectors around the world.

‘We need to ensure that all phases of the pandemic response tackle inequalities and long-term development deficits and safeguard social cohesion’, he said.

‘Cities are also home to extraordinary solidarity and resilience, strangers helping each other, streets cheering in support of essential workers, local businesses donating life-saving supplies. We have seen the best of the human spirit on display’.

Source: IPS News

Photo source: Sergio Santos

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