COVID-19 and the Right to the City: Informal settlements learning and mobilizing during a pandemic

Daniela Cocco Beltrame, Joaquin Benitez, Karenna Groff, Amelia Seabold

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Deepening socio-economic inequalities, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, make just and sustainable approaches to city-making that include different actors and value different types of knowledge have become even more urgent than before. Slums and informal settlements are loci of enunciation for these alternatives. Their already strained networks received additional pressure since the onset of COVID-19, but they also managed to remain sites of creativity and resourcefulness, where networks of kinship and solidarity foster alternative forms of “citification,” and negotiate decision-making space to further realise their right to the city. The pandemic affected the right to the city agenda in different ways across the global South, and this project investigated which variables drove these differences. In-depth interviews about the COVID-19 response in slum communities in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Freetown, Sierra Leone were conducted, and three topics emerged that reportedly had an effect on the potential for forwarding the right to the city agenda during the pandemic: 1) previous situated knowledge and experience of community-based organisations (CBOs), as well as pre-existing socio-spatial infrastructure; 2) government agencies’ political positioning and resource mobilisation capacity and; 3) CBOs built capacity to mobilize beyond crisis-specific issues and negotiate spaces of power in local governance structures
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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