UTC#2: The Basic Services Gap

UTC#2: The Basic Services Gap

6 May 2020
Global - Online


Date/Time:                 6 May 2020, 15:30p.m. – 17:00p.m. (UTC +03:00/Nairobi Time)
Partners:                    Practical Action
Location:                    Webinar on Zoom platform


With more than 1400 cities in 210 countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, an urgent response at many levels is required to protect the most vulnerable in our cities and communities.
UN-Habitat has initiated a specific Covid-19 campaign to engage partners to take action in cities and communities to address the challenges of the pandemic in solidarity with the most vulnerable while building resilience. To help the Campaign achieve this goal, a series of Covid-19 Urban Thinkers Campuses under seven urban-related topics will be organized throughout the months of April and May 2020.

The Basic Services Gap

The second Covid-19 Urban Thinkers Campus will be on the Basic Services Gap.

About 621 million urban residents do not have access to basic sanitation facilities worldwide. The emergence of the pandemic has exposed the fragilities and inequalities in our current systems which have left so many people in such a vulnerable position. This calls for immediate action to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in urban areas. Urgent actions to support access to basic services are needed, to limit the spread of the disease, and ensure essential services continue to run. We need to let local communities take a lead in adapting practices to their local contexts. Crucially, we need to ensure long-term recovery that leaves systems more resilient and better able to meet the needs of poor communities.

The UTC on Basic Services Gap brings together key speakers and stakeholders with an interest in addressing the provision of urban basic services during and after this crisis.


Moderator:  Lucy Stevens, Head of Cities programme at Practical Action

15:00-15:05  Welcome and introduction by WUC Co-chair

15:05-15:55  Urban Thinkers Session – introduced by moderator (5 mins). Allowing 2 mins transition time between speakers.

  • Speaker 1 – Birupakshya Dixit, Practical Action India, reports on findings from multi-stakeholder rapid assessment of basic services situation in secondary towns in Odisha State.
  • Speaker 2 – Ms. Rokeya Rafiq, Executive Director of Karmonjibi Nari (working women), Bangladesh, talking about informal workers and their role in keeping services running
  • Speaker 3 – Kisumu County Government, reflecting on the challenges for local government in essential service provision preventing the spread of covid-19
  • Speaker 4 – (Mr. Dewan Kamal Ahmed, President of Municipal Association of Bangladesh and Mayor of Nilphamari Municipality, on challenges for local government in limiting the spread and building for the future
  • Discussant – Graham Alabaster, UN-Habitat

15:55-16:25   Roundtable (Interactive moderated debate and Q&A session)

Guiding questions:

  • How can we ensure that access to basic services is not made even more difficult by restrictions to limit the spread of the virus, or because of upcoming seasonal factors?
  • Who is most at risk of being left behind and excluded? How can we ensure no-one is left behind?
  • How can our response help reshape systems for basic services in the future? What do we need to do differently?
  • What are the arising priority actions and commitments?

16:25-16:30  Conclusion by the moderator.

This UTC is hosted by: 

About Urban Thinkers Campuses
The Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) is an initiative of UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, conceived as an open space for critical exchanges and learnings between urban researchers, professionals, civil society actors, community-based/grassroots organisations, the media and decision-makers who believe that urbanization is an opportunity and can lead to positive urban transformations that benefit all. It was also intended as a platform to build consensus between partners engaged in addressing urbanization challenges and proposing solutions to urban futures in the context of the New Urban Agenda. This process has helped established alliances between partners and deliver key results on the ground. Since 2015, more than 150 UTCs have been organized, engaging about 45,000 participants worldwide.
About the UN-Habitat Covid-19 Campaign
During the immediate response phase to the COVID-19 crisis, the campaign’s goals are to show-case and advocate on key actions, give a voice to actors at the frontline of the pandemic to share their actions and engage partners to address the challenges in cities and communities. By the end of the pandemic and during the recovery phase, the campaign’s goals are to share lessons learned and promote alliances and initiatives that will help strengthen the future resilience of cities and communities through collaborations, partnerships and on the basis of solidarities.
About COVID-19 Urban Thinkers Campuses
In order to take stock of the multiple responses at different levels and scales by the various actors, there is a need to bring together organizations in order to exchange and learn on the different types of actions and their effectiveness. With the diverse actors and the community of partners it represents, WUC will facilitate this conversation through a series of UTCs in order to:
  • Present current actions on the ground in different contexts;
  • Analyze good practices and solutions in the different domains of action to address and response the Covid-19 crisis;
  • Extract lessons from the crisis and make recommendations for building resilience in cities and communities.
The recommendations will be embedded in The City We Need manifesto version (3.0) entitled: The City We Need in the Post-COVID19 World.
For more information about the UN-Habitat Covid-19 Campaign and how to join visit https://unhabitat.org/