Past Event

COVID-19 & informal settlements: What’s happening on the ground in Brazil and Kenya?

June 1, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
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Over half of Nairobi’s 4.3 million residents live in informal settlements and close to a quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s 6.3 million residents live in informal settlements known, locally, as favelas. Informal settlements are often characterized as communities with overcrowding, insecure residential status, poor-quality housing, and inadequate access to formal services like water, sanitation, and electricity. While residents of informal settlements are no strangers to preventing and managing infectious diseases, like tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 is presenting new challenges for these residents. Environmental, economic, and living conditions in informal settlements inhibit most residents from adhering to social distancing, health, and hygiene recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and for managing its effects.

The purpose of this three-part panel series hosted by the Columbia Global Centers-Nairobi, Kenya and Columbia Global Centers-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is to hear from experts and residents of informal settlements about some of the most pressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic in informal settlements in these two populous cities.



About the first panel:

Since March, experts and media reports have speculated that informal settlements may be some of the hardest hit communities by the health, social, and economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic is finding its way into informal settlements around the world, most of us are unaware of how it is affecting these communities and what is being done to prevent and manage the effects of the virus, both in the short-term and long-term. The purpose of this first panel discussion is to highlight the voices of local experts and community members who are living and working in these settlements as they share their experiences with and recommendations for preventing and managing the challenges being exacerbated or created by the COVID-19 pandemic in these communities.


Moderator: Professor Zahirah McNatt


Dr. Kennedy Odede
Founder and CEO at Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)

Julia Nyambura
Local Human Rights Defender and Community Mobilizer

Esther Hamburger
Professor of History of Film, Television, and Digital Media at the School of Communication and Arts of University of São Paulo

Thiago Nascimento
Local Leardeship at the Jacarezinho Community in Rio de Janeiro

> THIS PANEL WILL START AT 11AM (BRT) | 10AM (EDT) | 5PM (EAT/Nairobi Time)