The emergence of Urban Community Resilience Initiatives During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The research study on Covid-19 conducted by Vital Cities and Citizens researchers among which IHS staff Jan Fransen, Jurian Edelenbos and IHS alumna Daniela Ochoa Peralta, has led to a publication on urban community initiatives and resilience. The study, titled "The emergence of Urban Community Resilience Initiatives During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Exploratory Study" conducts a literature review and an international exploratory study in order to identify pathways within which Community Resilience Initiatives (CRIs) emerge within different governance contexts. 

With a death toll of over one million people in less than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic put the world through an immense shock, as did the lockdown measures, which led to extensive socio-economic effects worldwide. This paper focuses on urban Community Resilience Initiatives (CRIs), as a means of coping with the far-reaching impact of this global crisis - particularly on the emergence of such initiatives in the initial recovery stage of the pandemic. 

The emergence of urban Community Resilience Initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic (but also in general) is not something widely investigated and reported on. Despite existing literature on how local initiatives emerge, there is still a lack of clear insights into how CRIs emerge within various governance contexts, which leads to the main research question of the paper:

How do urban Community Resilience Initiatives emerge within different governance contexts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?

There are three sub-research questions:

What are the main characteristics of CRIs emerging during COVID-19?

Study results show that CRIs are likely to be temporary, as they address temporary issues which occur in a specific crisis context like the current pandemic and they tend to be in line with official regulations of the government. If they address a specific group in need of help, spontaneous initiatives may also deviate from the official response path. In about half of the CRIs, the resources come from within the community.

What barriers do they perceive when they emerge?

The main perceived barriers to the emergence of CRIs that the study identified are lack of funding and materials, weak partnerships and weak networks. The government is often seen as unreliable and absent, uninterested in collaboration with or funding CRIs. 

What different pathways lead to the emergence of CRIs within different governance contexts?

The study has explored pathways leading to the emergence of CRIs and results identify four pathways:

  1. informal bottom-up community initiatives;
  2. formal community initiatives emerging out of existing community-based initiatives;
  3. initiatives of external actors, often NGOs, universities or governments and
  4. networks of organisations whom together initiate action in response to COVID-19.

The study also formulates generic policy recommendations regarding CRIs, referring to supporting actors and resources, network development and the four identified pathways of emergence.

Read the publication here >