Policy Lab Webinar: 'Urban Poor Communities and COVID-19 – Response of Local Governments on New WASH Priorities in South Asia’

Khairul Islam, Rameshor Shrestha, Srish Mishra, Amzad Hossain Sarker, Asia Gul, Dewan Kamal Ahmed, Rama Kanta Duwadi, D. Thara, Zofeen Ebrahim, Shubhagato Dasgupta
Tuesday, 10 November 2020 03:00 PM - Tuesday, 10 November 2020 05:00 PMAdd to Calendar 2020-11-10 09:30:30 2020-11-10 11:30:30 Title Description Location SCI-FI arun.k@gai.co.in Asia/Kolkata public
Online via Zoom


On behalf of WaterAid, UNICEF, and the Lumanti Support Group for Shelter, the Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI) initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is pleased to invite you to the first Policy Lab on: 'Urban Poor Communities and COVID-19 – Response of Local Governments on New WASH Priorities in South Asia'.

Speakers: Khairul Islam, Rameshor Shrestha, Srish Mishra, Amzad Hossain Sarker, Asia Gul, Dewan Kamal Ahmed, Rama Kanta Duwadi, D. Thara, Zofeen Ebrahim, Shubhagato Dasgupta

The session will be online via Zoom. To register, kindly fill this form. In case of any issues and for any queries, please email at sci-fi@cprindia.org.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the stark inequality and sheer poverty of large parts of the urban population across South Asia to the surface. For people in informal settlements and dense areas, ensuring preventive measures such as social distancing, access to safe water, and facilities for hand-washing and overall hygiene was extremely challenging. For those relying on incomes from daily labour — often migrants from rural areas — lockdown measures were essentially impossible to abide by. Services like Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are the constitutional mandate of the local governments in most South Asian countries. However, urban local bodies often struggle to provide these services to all their citizens. Devolution of financial and human resources to the extent needed to match the scope of the urban local governments’ mandate has been limited so far in South Asia.

Local governments in big cities and small towns have been trying to respond to COVID-19 by reaching out to the urban poor and disadvantaged communities with WASH support. Many such responses have happened in collaboration with the bureaucracy and administration, civil society, volunteers, ward-level leadership, and engagement of local communities. There is a long way to go in South Asia for strengthening decentralisation, tackling inequality and providing safe WASH services to all. The current pandemic offers a timely opportunity to identify and learn from the good responses taken by urban local governments across South Asia.

The present Policy Lab, ‘Response of Local Governments on New WASH Priorities’, will showcase initiatives by urban local governments, innovations, and challenges in enabling inclusive WASH to tackle COVID-19 among urban poor communities in South Asia and other countries of the Global South. The Policy Lab will also discuss the opportunities and required reforms for strengthened service delivery for marginalised communities in the urban context.


TimeThematic areaSpeaker

3.00–3.10 PMOpening RemarksMr Khairul Islam, Regional
Director, WaterAid

3.10–4.00 PMSession 1
This session will bring experiences from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, focusing on the following questions:

  • What types of actions from local governments on WASH have enabled a fast and effective Covid-19 response in urban poor communities?
  • How can city governments replicate these responses in their local context for short term interventions and long-term planning?

3.10- 3.18 PMNepalMr Rameshor Shrestha, Mayor Mahalaxmi Municipality, Nepal

3.18- 3.26 PMIndiaMr Srish Mishra, Executive Officer, Bakshi Ka Talab Nagar
Panchayat, Lucknow, India

3.26-3.34pmBangladeshMr Amzad Hossain Sarker,
Mayor, Saidpur Municipality, Bangladesh

3.34–3.42 PMPakistanMs Asia Gul, Director General Local Government, Provincial, Government of Punjab, Pakistan

3.42- 4.00Q&A and Summation of Session 1

4.00- 4.50Session 2- Panel Discussion
This session will bring experts, associations of municipalities and policymakers to discuss:

  • What can we learn from the collaborations and approaches adopted during the pandemic that can inform long term planning and strengthened city-wide WASH services?
  • What are the challenges of the local governments for WASH service delivery for urban poor communities, and what reforms are needed to strengthen local governance?

Mr Dewan Kamal Ahmed, President, Municipal Association of Bangladesh and Mayor, Nilphamari Municipality
Mr Rama Kanta Duwadi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, Nepal
Ms D. Thara, Joint Secretary and National Mission Director, AMRUT
Ms Zofeen Ebrahim, Senior Journalist, Pakistan

4.50-5.00Wrap-up and Way ForwardMr Shubhagato Dasgupta,
Senior Fellow, CPR

About the Policy Labs
The present Policy Lab is the first in a series of four titled, Urban Poor Communities & COVID-19 - New Urban WASH Priorities for South Asian Governments, jointly organised by WaterAid, UNICEF, Lumanti Support Group for Shelter, and the Scaling City Institution for India (SCI-FI) initiative at CPR. The series will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders including national and local governments, practitioners, researchers, and the civil society to deliberate on strategies for improving WASH for urban poor communities, and in turn, unlocking the urban resilience of cities across South Asia.

Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI)
The Water and Sanitation initiative under the SCI-FI initiative seeks to understand diverse reasons for poor water and sanitation and to examine how these might be related to technology, service delivery models, questions of institutions, governance, finance, and socio-economic dimensions. The SCI-FI: Water and Sanitation initiative seeks to support national, state, and city authorities to develop policies and programmes for intervention with the goal of increasing access to safe and sustainable sanitation in both urban and rural areas. The SCI-FI initiative is nested at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) since 2013.

India Development Review is the digital partner for the series.