The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Beyond Immunological Assumptions - DPU's Adriana Allen on COVID19 response and the Right to the City

6 May 2020

In an online public assembly organized by the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C), Prof. Adriana Allen argues that blanket immunological assumptions won’t work for a vast majority of urban dwellers across the world.

Prof. Adriana Allen

On April 17, DPU’s Professor Adriana Allen argued that many of the responses to COVID19 prescribed as globally universal protective measures are either impracticable or even pose further risks for a large number of urban dwellers.

Reflecting from her position as the current President of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC)  – a global network of over 400 member and friend organisations from 120 countries in five continents – she explained why is that the large number of women, men, girls and boys who live in informal settlements will be ill-served by measures that assume that home is a safe heaven, that people can stockpile food, dig deep into their savings or indeed be able to work from home.

She outlined how deep structural inequalities shape what being affected by the virus means not only across different geographies but also across intersecting class, race, gender, age and ability. And called upon five key principles to ensure that the shocks felt worldwide today pave the way to tackle pre-existing urban inequalities:
  1. Putting numbers to the under-recorded impacts of the crisis
  2. Acknowledging that ‘equal’ protection does not mean ‘same’ protection
  3. Preventing stigmatisation
  4. Protecting human rights at the center of pandemic and post pandemic responses
  5. Acting now to address long-due challenges

Prof. Allen concluded by reminding us that the ‘social production of habitat’ – that is the multiple ways in which poor and impoverished women and men produce, run and manage cities and all the lifelines that support them - is also the ‘social production of health’, and that protecting their right to the city is fundamentally about protecting the right to life.

To learn more about what HIC and other civil organisations working for the habitat rights are doing and thinking in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: https://www.hic-net.org/hic-calls-for-social-justice-in-the-face-of-the-covid-19-crisis/