On April 1, 2020, ElsaMarie DSilva and Prathima Manohar both alumni of Stanford Centre of Democracy Development and Rule of Law’s (CDDRL) Leadership Network for Change with Skill Virtual World Forum hosted a webinar on Building Inclusive Cities to explore the ideas for urbanism and programming on the growing concerns and issues within the marginalized communities such as migrant and daily wage workers in our cities. The coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on the utter helplessness of the marginalized communities during the pandemic.
An urban development thought leader Jagan Shah, senior advisor to Department for International Development(DFID), lent perspective to the discussion regarding different ideas of inclusive cities that values and respects the diversity of its people and their need for equality.
The discussion highlights the following themes:
● In India, 90% of people working in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into
poverty during this crisis leading to limited or no resources to sustain.
● A larger population of migrant and daily wage workers end up living in slums and have little or
no access to basic services. This flags concerns over executing social distancing.
● During the lockdown, the lack of coordination among governments and stakeholders have
contributed to non-accomodation of a major part of the population.
● Covid-19 has resulted in unintended consequence of gender based violence.
● Segregation of land uses i.e. exclusionary zoning has led to economic segregation.
● We need to think about generating a new economy at that local level. Even food production could
be an economic activity that can be reoriented with regards to both, production for consumption
and production for participation. This also forces us to rethink food supplies.
● In order to devise social distancing-enabled low-income housing design, we need Smart Cities for
integrated command and control centers to improve the social, physical and economic
infrastructure of cities.
● Hybrid systems are the key for decentralisation of essential services. Here, the focus should be on empowerment of local bodies and the system that connects them with the government.
● Gendered exclusion that has been practiced is something to rethink. There is a need to fill these
gender gaps in order to have far more safe and secure cities.
● Cities should be thought of as public spaces and designed on the perspectives of those who have been excluded. Architecture and Urbanism disciplines should retain on making inclusive cities. This requires multidisciplinary professionals who recognise the human dimension of cities and build more efficient, productive, inclusive and healthiest cities.
“When we look outside (under Covid- 19 lockdown) at the cities we built, we realise they were built for exclusion. We have to rethink cities so that they are safer and more inclusive.” concluded Jagan Shah.

The full session can be viewed here –

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