Covid Collective Helpdesk Report 8

The Social Economic Impacts of Covid-19 in Informal Urban Settlements

Published on 27 September 2021

The social economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis in informal urban settlements are widely discussed in the literature, as are the risk factors for particular social and economic groups in these areas. However, government responses and evidence of their impact do not appear to rise to the challenges posed by these studies. Pre-pandemic analyses of risk factors in informal urban settlements and newly collected evidence from different contexts are available to understand the unique and pressing challenges that the pandemic poses to wellbeing in informal urban settlements.

In contrast, there is little evidence of effective policy and programme solutions to address these challenges, which is likely driven by the absence of targeted policies and programmes to support people living in informal urban settlements. As a result, many communities have had to rely on their own limited resources and support networks to respond to the crisis (Wilkinson, 2021). This report briefly summarises the range of available evidence on the social economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis in informal urban settlements and the intersectional differences in how different identity groups living in them have experienced the pandemic.

Following a short introduction to the context of the Covid-19 crisis in these areas, the report outlines three thematic areas that have received significant attention in the literature and policy discourses – livelihoods and poverty, food security, and education. While not an exhaustive list, this range of topics is indicative of the range of evidence available and outstanding gaps. The remaining section details evidence of how different identity groups living in informal urban settlements have experienced the pandemic based on gender, disability, age, and migration status. The review draws on a mixture of academic and grey literature, with some opinion pieces and blogs also included given the ongoing nature of the pandemic.

Cite this publication

Lenhardt, A. (2021). The Social Economic Impact of Covid-19 in Informal Urban Settlements. Covid Collective Helpdesk Report 8, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/CC.2021.008


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