Giving Compass' Take:

• Harshil Suresh and Milind Mhaske propose an action plan empowering city governments to expedite COVID-19 responses across India.

• How important is amicability between national, state, and city governments? Why might empowering city governments prove essential for populations in rural areas at greater risk? What are you doing to support vulnerable demographics? 

• Discover how you can support your community and those across the globe suffering from coronavirus.

With the rising issues of climate change and the possibility of frequent COVID-19-like pandemics in the world, cities are more vulnerable to natural disasters and the rapid spread of communicable diseases.

One part of the solution to this lies in adopting sustainable urban planning and design measures that are proactive and enable our cities to be resilient. The other part involves creating administrative measures for city governments, which will allow them to handle any emergency speedily and effectively. The importance of empowering local government can be seen in the case of Surat and Mumbai during the plague, where decentralised administrative action allowed them to respond rapidly and contain the outbreak.

The urban poor (including those living in slums) and the informal workforce (including migrant workers) bear the brunt of such crises in the city. At such times, the central and state governments come out with relief assistance and provision of care to the urban poor to help them cope. However, if the state governments were to transfer the function of urban poverty alleviation to cities, it would allow them to act proactively and quickly, thereby overcoming some of the key implementation challenges in deploying relief services for the poor.

The coordination between the state government and city governments is crucial for effective decentralised crisis management at the local-level. Strong political and executive leadership is necessary to enable city governments to respond quickly. This can only be ensured when authority lies with the commissioner, mayor, and the city councillors to take decisions for the effective management of crises in the city. In turn, this will further allow for better planning and quick action at the respective zonal, ward, and local area levels.

Read the full article about empowering city governments for quick COVID-19 response by Harshil Suresh and Milind Mhaske at India Development Review.