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Article image

Nosizo Sebake, Shayne Robinson (Photo Credit)

30 May 2020

Mark Napier


uKESA Librarian


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

South Africa


Website References

Built environment



Cities and towns

City planning

Economic conditions


Human settlements




South Africa



Cities, people, environment and the economy

COVID-19 Responses Collection

This page forms part of the COVID-19 Responses Collection.

Here we present publications and discussions about cities, people, environment and the economy.

❕ denotes new resources added.

Publications, articles and blog posts

  • Can Covid-19 Help Ease the Climate Crisis? - Horne and Hancock (2020) consider the impact that the Coronavirus has had on the environment. They note for instance the reduction in plane and car emissions, but remind us that emissions were already at their highest. "The speed of lockdowns shows governments can act fast if they want to."
  • Stay or Can I Go Now? Longer-term Impacts of Covid-19 on Global Migration - Yayboke (2020) reflects on human mobility through history, citing this as the core tenet of economic growth from the past decade. The author discusses the short and long-term impacts that Covid-19 has and may have globally for migrants. "A majority of international migrants come from the developing world, either moving to another developing country or to a developed country... As migrants lose income and remittances correspondingly decrease, families back home dealing with their own pandemic-related challenges will suffer."
  • Cities and COVID19: Preparing for Pandemics - "Ratho (2020) reflects on how cities have previously reinvented themselves following public health crises, i.e. 2014/15 Ebola epidemic, mid-19th century cholera outbreak, 1890s bubonic plague. In this article, she explores the relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and urban density, informal settlements, social infrastructure, and defensive designing in order to provide a potential direction for urban planning.
    • "Pandemic responses must be buttressed by an urban-planning system which includes data collection of number of people, number of households, pockets and areas of vulnerability, as well as the availability of WASH amenities. Preparedness and response plans cannot be made unless the number of people living in areas and information of civic amenities available to them is known."
  • Coercion or the social contract? COVID 19 and spatial (in)justice in African cities  - “Marginalised communities in African cities face a double disadvantage. For one, they live under conditions prone to spreading disease. They also occupy spaces where compliance with the law is difficult.  Every failure to comply, every violation of an impracticable law or regulation becomes justification for additional restrictions and violence.” (Kihato and Landau, 2020)
  • Coronavirus Community Responses: Crisis sees Cape Town suburbs reach across the great social divide - In this article, Silwana (2020) shares the realities of poverty and unemployment she and her family, who live in the township of Gugulethu, have faced since the lockdown began.  She also speaks of her involvement with Gugulethu’s Collective Action Network (CAN), a part of Cape Town Together, a neighbourhood organising effort designed to keep the people of Cape Town safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • "The work our CAN team has done, assisted by Sea Point, has benefited hundreds of people in Gugulethu. But we... are still in dire need of emergency assistance from the government [as...] this crisis has only just begun."
  • COVID 19 Macro-economic consequences for developing countries - Hausmann (2020), Director of the Growth Lab at Harvard’s Center for International Development, analyses the macro-economic implications of COVID-19 as well as recommendations for developing countries and international institutions.
    • "We are in uncharted waters, [this means] that governments are making decisions at a very fast pace, without too much time to think about them. They are facing very difficult moral trade-offs."
  • Covid-19: ‘Unlocking’ South Africa’s economy- different perspectives - Ann Bernstein (Centre for Development and Enterprise, 2020) facilitates a conversation with Theuns De Wet (FirstRand Ltd), Michael Jordaan (Montegray Capital), Neva Makgetla (Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies), Stephan Malherbe (Genesis Analytics) and Ayanda Mngadi (Hulamin) to discuss the pros and cons, costs and benefits of the approach, and whether there are other options to consider.
    • Jordaan suggests that a possible approach to making decisions during this time on uncertainty could be that of having "strong views that are weakly held". This means informing ourselves as best we can, but allowing ourselves to change our response as we learn more about the pandemic.
    • "When you don't know everything - and you have to recognise it - the best is to not go with your gut or with emotions, but to go to scientists to find out what the actual facts are. What the hypothesis are. What are the things we know for certain... Scientists... would include ...economists and people know what will happen to human behaviour if you have certain type rules" Jordaan
    • "Don't copy and paste. Copy and adapt" Jordaan
  • Covid-19: Can small business survive the coronavirus? - Ann Bernstein (Centre for Development and Enterprise, 2020) facilitates a conversation with Professors Ed Glaeser and Michael Luca (Harvard University), John Dludlu (Small Business Institute), Andrew Donaldson (SALDRU, UCT) and Ben Bierman (Business Partner) discuss the implications of Covid-19 for the small business sector. The session is structured in two parts, the first focuses on small business in the US and how they are coping with the crisis. The second part considers this same issue from a South African perspective.
    • "We can't afford to lose 4 million jobs" Dludlu
  • COVID-19: How to save the African entrepreneur - Mutono (2020) considers the role played by informal entrepreneurs in the African economy and how despite this, a large majority do not meet the requirements for support because they lack certain skills, i.e. bookkeeping and business-writing skills. He proposes a number of measures that governments should consider to save the African entrepreneur.
  • COVID-19: Implications for the “digital divide” in Africa - Turianskyi (2020) examines four factors that have emphasized the digital divide since we first heard about COVID-19. The author proposes short- and long-term solutions at different levels: governmental, corporate, continental and global.
    • "The current lockdown restrictions make internet access even more essential to sustain livelihoods and maintain social contact. Social distancing will require millions to continue using the internet to work, study and socialise from home for the foreseeable future."
  • Is the City Itself the Problem? - Kling (2020) considers the long history of blaming urban areas rather than economic factors for physical and moral ills. He argues, in this article, that density can be an asset for fighting the coronavirus.
    • "Density means cities can more easily concentrate resources and social services where needed. Residents, in theory, have quicker access to hospitals and health care. And when nurtured by “social infrastructure” — community centres, libraries, and yes, public parks — cities can generate lifesaving networks of social ties which combat isolation and mitigate the effects of disasters."
  • Mapping Risk Factors for the Spread of COVID-19 in Africa - The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (May 2020) reviews relative risk factors associated with the novel coronavirus. This analysis helps generate potential insights into the varied and often overlapping levels of vulnerability faced by each African country.
  • Reopening the economy: Obstacles, opportunities and risks - Makgetla (2020) considers the impacts of the pandemic on the global economy, focusing on South Africa’s main trading partners. The author's analysis (from an informal survey and in-depth interviews from the stakeholders in the auto, steel, plastics and furniture manufacturing) highlights blockages to reopening the country's economy. This analysis provides the basis for more effective and strategic measures for restarting economic activities.
    • UN Habitat Urban Impact Newsletter - As the pandemic continues, UN-Habitat has been moving forward to implement its COVID-19 Response Plan for 64 countries focusing on immediate action for the most vulnerable.

    Photo Credit: Shayne Robinson

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