Urban centers are home to half of the total populace and are drivers of development and creativity in the economy. The high concentration of people and events in urban areas, also, makes them inclined to different stressors, for example, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.People were seen fleeing out of most urban centers for safety.
Significantly more than one city has been closing down, converting urban commercial centers, suburban malls, and other public areas into ghost towns as the infamous coronavirus rips through the globe. A few nations are as yet under lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID-19. Kenya was one of the nations that partially pre-owned this methodology to contain the infection.
This isn’t the first occasion when this has occurred—since days of old times, urban areas have become the focal points of transmittable infections.
With the coronavirus set to restructure the urban environment over the coming years, we are headed for rather momentous days with these upcoming changes. Urban centers being the epicenter of the pandemic, there should be more of advocating for the reimagining of cities and proposing alternatives ways for creating a resilient built environment. The main aim of this blog post is to explain the effects of the pandemic on cities and to highlight valuable lessons that can be learned from urban planning post-COVID.
Positive impacts brought by pandemic to the city
New concerns have been presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, compelling us to reconsider the manner in which we fabricate our urban areas. Without neglecting the idea of a city as a social community, the emergency has additionally allowed us a chance to rethink the connection between urban design and public health. Allowed us to re-examine the manner in which we plan urban areas. How urban areas are planned is crucial to the management of infectious diseases.
Following the imposition of social distance, lock-down and minimal human contact with nature at its peak of the pandemic proved to be a blessing of nature and the environment. It caused a huge drop in air and water pollution.
The pandemic also encouraged the emergence of the most essential businesses that we didn’t know we needed. In Kenya delivery of products surged since most people were quarantining from home, this made a lot of people get conversant with online shopping. While most of the population lost their jobs, a good number used the break to venture into new activities and explore several things that they are interested in. The pandemic fostered creativity because of the availability of time.
Some of the changes that should be considered includes
New mobility options:
In general, human mobility and transport networks that improve inter-and intra-urban connectivity are seen as the main factors leading to the spread of infectious diseases and their role in previous outbreaks of diseases. This is a strong indicator of the greater resilience of non-motorized transit systems to pandemics. Investing in such infrastructure not only helps to contain the strain of the virus but also improves access to services, and reduces demand on overcrowded transit systems in emergencies. To ensure social distancing, the management of bus stops and the transport sector must be rethought comprehensively. Kenya is embracing the use of Non-motorist transport.
Techno-driven techniques i.e., tracking down infected people. has been effective in suppressing the virus, but has raised questions about data rights and accountability. During the pandemic, most of the institutions in Kenya embraced online learning while this disadvantaged some of the people that couldn’t have access to the internet. A lot of businesses also went online this created a lot of activities on the internet. With many of us now embracing online activities better digital infrastructure needs to be put in place to facilitate remote work where possible.
Access to essentials:
The coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call for cities around the world to reconsider community development with health protection as a top priority. Easier access to hospitals and public health systems makes regions of high density less vulnerable to pandemics. Designers’ focus should be directed to rediscovering and redesigning social and leisure places according to individual needs and to constructing them as pandemic-resilient, adaptive spaces.
Talk about Mental Health more:
In a country like Kenya with inadequate public health and crippled mental health services, and where the majority of the population lives on less than $1 a day threshold, mental health is essential to an effective response. Suicide and quarantine breakdown stories demonstrate that care for mental wellbeing needs to be incorporated at all levels of response.I deduced a while back on an article on how urban centers affect our mental health.
Making city infrastructure more flexible:
Embrace cashless economy:
Mechanisms to be incorporated that can drive Kenya to a cashless economy to aid in the prevention of the spread of the virus. Although this may have lots of Limitations since a large percentage of the population in Kenya lives on less than $1 a day. Some public transport currently discourages the use of M-Pesa for transactions because most of them incure losses due to Reversal of transactions.
Enabling more peripheral development, which would involve major changes in land use and zoning regulations. Other strategies in different sectors of the country must be established in order to improve the post-covid economy, including :
- FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION. .
- TOURISM SECTOR.
- HOUSING SECTOR.
- SOCIAL PROTECTION.
- SPORTS SECTOR.
- ENVIRONMENT, WATER AND SANITATION.
What are your thoughts on this?