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Municipal Responses to COVID-19: Stories from the Host Municipalities Learning Network

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May 19, 2020 / 0 Comments
 

CONTEXT AND CHALLENGES

The new COVID-19 pandemic has brought pressure to an already fragile context. Local authorities in the Mediterranean already dealing with hosting refugees find themselves at the forefront of a new sanitary crisis. The immediate need for crisis management and health coordination to contain the spread of the virus is coupled with the challenges of responding to already existing socio-economic needs of local and refugee communities. At the same time, quarantine measures and lockdowns in all Mediterranean states led to a disruption in production and supply chains in global, national and local economies. In this context, equally importantly as short-term, immediate measures to contain the virus is the need for long-term planning to meet the crisis’ economic and social impact, strengthen already financially weak communities and provide long-term solutions to unemployment, local development and financial inequality. A detailed review of the new challenges and priorities for Mediterranean host local authorities arising from the new COVID-19 crisis is reported in a CMI blog.

 

The CMI is leveraging on its unique position as a multi-partner platform and its access to Eastern Mediterranean municipalities through the well-established Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN). In order to contribute to experience sharing and peer-learning within the HMLN, the CMI is, in consultation with partners, offering peer-learning, experience sharing and technical training to implement private sector-driven solutions and create jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for locals, refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to recover the local economies in the aftermath of the COVID-19. As part of these efforts, CMI is organizing a webinar series: “Jobs, Entrepreneurship and Private Sector Engagement in Host Communities: adapting to the COVID-19 crisis” to take place between May and July 2020. CMI is also collecting experiences from representatives of Mediterranean local authorities hosting refugees on their responses to the COVID-19 crisis and their added challenges in the already fragile context of hosting refugees.  

 

As part of CMI efforts to support local authorities, the solutions presented at this page testify the efforts of municipal staff and elected representatives who are working at the frontline of this crisis, in alignment with respective central governments’ measures. They spam from emergency and immediate measures such as organizational efforts and service delivery, to longer term planning such as recovery of the private sector.

 

We continue to welcome feedback and experiences from municipalities hosting refugees and displaced populations on their actions against the COVID-19 pandemic, to share it within the HMLN Network and our partners. If you are a municipal practitioner interested in sharing with us your experience, or if you want to share your specific needs for our needs assessment, please contact us at refugees@cmimarseille.org.

 

The experiences described below have been shared by members of the Host Municipalities Learning Network and have not been subjected to verification by the CMI or its partners. When available, policy documents or strategies have been attached as a complement to the summary of experience provided at this page.

 

 

Mediterranean Municipalities Facing Forced Displacement Respond to Covid 19 Crisis

Index

Jordan

Greater Madaba: Supporting Families in Need

Greater Mafraq: Disinfecting Public Spaces and Distributing Bread to Those in Need.

New Balama: Developing a Comprehensive Response

Sahab: Awareness First

 

Palestine

Bani Naim: Involving all Segments of the Community

Ramallah: Partnering with the Private Sector

Yatta: Logistical Mobilization

 

Turkey

Mersin: Awareness Training for Staff and Establishment of a Crisis Center

 

 

Jordan

Greater Madaba: Supporting Families in Need

 

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: Greater Madaba Municipality
     
  • Actions:

    The municipality set to activate its risk management strategy by forming an emergency cell and organizing its activities under four main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Health and logistic services
      • Solid waste management carried out and daily waste collection and segregation frequency increased.
    • Pillar 2: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Increased control over shops; regulated access to shops and other facilities in the city;
    • Pillar 3: Disinfection
      • Spraying and disinfecting all public facilities such as hospitals and health centers;
      • Spraying and disinfecting all streets and sidewalks;
      • Spraying and disinfecting small shops;
      • Purchasing 4 street spraying and disinfecting vehicles, 45 building disinfecting machines and setting up 17 highly prepared execution teams equipped with best protection measures.
    • Pillar 4: Public service and interaction with the local community
      • Distributing aid, medicines, food and even heating fuel to 3500 families in need, funded through the municipality's special budget;
      • Refugees: providing direct support (food and medicine) to Syrian refugees. 

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Greater Mafraq: Disinfecting Public Spaces and Distributing Bread to Those in Need

 

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: Greater Mafraq municipality
     
  • Actions:

    Activities were organized under two main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Disinfection
      • Washing the streets with soap and water, and disinfecting them afterwards;
      • Spraying and disinfecting the entire city, including the neighborhoods and districts;
      • Spraying and disinfecting schools;
      • Spraying and disinfecting places of worship such as mosques and churches;
      • Spraying and disinfecting hospitals;
      • Spraying the city, its neighborhoods and districts with disinfectants and fumigation.
    • Pillar 2: Public service and interaction with the local community
      • Distributing bread to families benefiting from the National Aid Fund;
         
  • Resources and explanatory documents:

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New Balama: Developing a Comprehensive Response

 

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: New Balama municipality
     
  • Actions:

    The municipality formed an emergency cell to deal with Corona virus. Activities were organized under 4 main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Guidance signs about Corona designed and hung in prominent and highly visited locations to raise awareness;
      • Intensified health control over shops with prices monitored on a daily basis;
      • Creating daily awareness posts on prevention methods and modes of transmission on the municipality's Facebook page;
      • Field staff trained on wearing protective clothing and gear and educate them on the importance of these equipment in preventing infection;
      • Municipal workers trained on disinfection methods, the optimal use of substances and methods of disposal of empty bottles, clothing, masks and gloves.
    • Pillar 2: Disinfection
      • Spraying and disinfecting all schools in the district (50 schools);
      • Spraying and disinfecting places of worship (205 mosques);
      • Spraying and disinfecting health centers (6 centers);
      • Spraying and disinfecting all government departments and institutions; 
      • Spraying and disinfecting all markets in Balama district;
      • Intensive spraying and disinfection of all neighborhoods in Balama district over a period of 10 days (36 residential cluster);
      • Disinfecting cars, buses and gas distribution vans through ongoing spraying campaigns;
      • Spraying and disinfecting waste collection areas (containers);
      • Daily spraying and disinfection after closure of shops.
    • Pillar 3: Waste collection
      • Intensifying waste collection service (morning and evening, daily);
      • Awareness raising among residents urged to dispose of waste in a safe manner and in designated areas in order to protect their health and prevent the spread of infection;
      • Disinfecting cleaning vehicles & machines on daily basis;
      • Workers, drivers and supervisors provided with disinfectants and protective clothing and gear to use during work.
    • Pillar 4: Public Service and interaction with the local community
      • Distribution of bread to families benefiting from the National Aid Fund;
      • Supporting health centers in distributing monthly medicines to patients through the provision of a mechanism and a driver;
      • Supporting Civil Defense in cases of emergency;
      • Organizing access to shops and pharmacies by introducing clear lines indicating the necessary standing distance both inside and outside these places (social distancing);
      • Installing sanitizers at entrances and exits of banks and shops;
      • Helping people with their basic and urgent needs through the provisions of mechanisms and employees;
      • Supporting the distribution of food aid packages to beneficiaries through municipal mechanisms and staff; 
      • Supporting the National Aid Office in distributing monetary allocations to aid beneficiaries through the provision of a driver and a car;
      • Some spray equipment and disinfecting agents were donated by the private sector. 

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Sahab: Awareness First

 

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: Sahab municipality
     
  • Actions:
    ​   
    The municipality formed a crisis management team that created a response plan. The plan was adopted, and activities were organized under four main pillars of action:
  • Pillar 1: Health and logistical services
    • Distributing medicines to those suffering chronic diseases.
  • Pillar 2: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
    • Increased control over shops;
    • Launching awareness campaigns based on consultations with doctors and specialists through social media and local media outlets, and displaying this content on large screens erected in the center of the city;
    • Organizing lectures on the topic given by doctors
  • Pillar 3: Disinfection
    • Forming spraying and disinfecting teams;
    • Purchasing new pumps;
    • Distributing face masks in schools (prior to lockdown);
    • Distributing face masks and gloves to bank employees and customers;
    • Spraying and disinfecting all neighborhoods and areas of town;
    • Spraying and disinfecting all public transport vehicles;
    • Spraying and disinfecting gas distribution trucks;
    • Spraying and disinfecting all ATM machines;
    • Spraying and disinfecting Totunji hospital
  • Pillar 4: Public Service and interaction with the local community
    • Ensuring employees receive full, un-cut salaries;
    • Supporting the Jordanian army stationed in the city and providing them with disinfectants and necessary protective gear;
    • Distributing free books to encourage reading while staying at home.
  • Resources and explanatory documents:

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Palestine

 


Bani Naim: Involving all Segments of the Community

    

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: Municipality of Bani Naim
     
  • Partners: governmental, civil and charity institutes in the municipality, as well as the security services.
     
  • Actions:

    The municipality formed an emergency committee under the leadership of Bani Naim municipality and membership of all governmental, civil and charity institutes in the town, in addition to security services. Specialized sub-committees were set as follows: 1) Media Committee 2) Health Committee 3) Social Committee 4) Awareness Committee 5) Security Committee. Activities were organized under 3 main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Health services
      • Health sub-committee of competent town doctors established to conduct preliminary examinations and follow up of suspected COVID cases;
      • Ambulance assigned to transport Corona cases to quarantine;
      • Health clinic established for initial screening of suspected Corona cases by the town doctors;
      • Free dental clinic for emergencies set up.
    • Pillar 2: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Awareness raising sub-committee established so as to alert individuals and families on prevention measures;
      • Security commission formed of police and security forces established to control and organize the movement of people, disperse crowds and regulate movement into and out of the town;
      • Barriers set up on the town's entrances with the help of the Palestinian police to control the movement of people into and out of the town and disperse any assemblies;
      • Awareness leaflets published and disseminated and awareness raising content shared through social media, where doctors and specialists address and inform on symptoms of the virus, how to deal with it and prevent its spread.
    • Pillar 3: Public service and interaction with the local community
      • Media sub-committee established to follow up on and disseminate accurate news and combat disinformation;
      • Social sub-committee established to follow up on the social and human needs of the people and listen to their problems and needs.

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Ramallah: Partnering with the Private Sector

 

 

  • Organizational or responsible body: Ramallah Municipality
     
  • Actions:

    The city council established an emergency team, to set actions in motion. continued work via virtual meetings. Activities were organized under 4 main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Disinfection
      • Disinfection and sanitization of public and civil society organizations as well as most public venues and areas;
      • Disinfection of municipal premises and control over building visitor
      • Disposing solid waste and medical waste collected from the quarantine centers in the City.
    • Pillar 2: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Sending awareness messages and updating citizens through social media about the measures that are taken across the city;
      • Using multi-media methods to reach all segments of the community
      • Educating all city segments to find their household location through GIS;
    • Pillar 3: Logistics and health services
      • Solid waste collection, waste water and treatment plants operation;
      • Use of GIS interactive apps and spatial analysis to document cases, support decision- making and management of incoming requests;
      • Converting hotels into quarantine centers
    •  Pillar 4: Public services and interaction with the local community
      • Online Open Call for Volunteers such as young residents who wish to support within their neighborhoods and districts
      • Online social activities and home cultural activities with locals
      • Cooperating with the private sector: develop partnerships with the Private Sector and local community to support the initiatives that aim to adapt services and solutions for businesses and the local community;
      • Supporting small business owners, local entrepreneurs and craftsmen through adapted activities, to help them promote their productions to the private sector and the local community
      • Restructuring grants or specific amounts from its annual budget to develop a new program that supports vulnerable groups and SMEs who were mostly affected by the crisis.
      • Supporting other Palestinian cities in service provisions
      • Virtual Story-telling by elderly for kids through social media accounts
      • Joining the global campaign initiated by the Creative Cities Network - pioneered by UNESCO: #weRculture to ask representatives in the creative industry to share awareness messages with their communities;
  • Resources and explanatory documents:

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Yatta: Logistical Mobilization

 

 

  • Organization or responsible body: Yatta municipality Organizational or responsible body
     
  • Actions:

    Yatta municipality formed an emergency cell and mandated the Mayor and three municipal staff with management thereof and coordinating with competent authorities in the city. Activities were organized under 4 main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Health and logistic services
      • Allocating a number of municipal vehicles to transport field workers, detect cases and check security barriers;
      • Providing adequate lighting to security barriers and checkpoints (columns, cables and searchlights)
      • Setting up a quarantine facility;
      • Launching a bid-on the project of paving and rehabilitating the road leading to the quarantine facility;
      • Extending a 2" water pipeline along with house fixtures to the quarantine facility and the neighboring houses, in addition to backup extensions for future use and renew electricity and telephone wires in that area and provide the facility with internet hence rendering it ready to receive patients;
      • Setting up a facility for examination of samples and allocate lab staff, security personnel and cleaners to operate the facility;
      • Cooperating with Yatta hospital to transport patients (such as dialysis patients) and other emergencies;
      • Distributing water to the neighborhoods through water networks, repairing any damages and making special water deliveries to prevention facilities based on urgent needs.
    • Pillar 2: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Setting-up 8 checkpoints and security barriers run jointly by security personnel and volunteers to control the movement of people into and out of the city, disinfecting vehicles, inspecting temperatures and providing advice, guidance and prevention instructions for people returning from their work stations;
      • Providing Emergency Room staff with the necessary preventive gear such as disinfectants, protective clothing, cleaning materials, etc.
    • Pillar 3: Disinfection
      • Managing and collecting solid waste around the clock, after following all the preventive measures such as protective clothing, disinfecting staff, vehicles and containers, and disinfecting some roads and neighborhoods with suspected cases.
    • Pillar 4: Public Service and with the local community interaction
      • Receiving appeals from residents and coordinating with all security institutions and agencies working in the field to intervene.
  • Resources and explanatory documents:

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Turkey

 

Mersin: Awareness Training for Staff and Establishment of a Crisis Center

 

 

  • Organization or responsible body: Mersin Metropolitan municipality
     
  • Actions:

    Mersin Metropolitan municipality established a 24h/24 Crisis Center to handle the crisis and pandemic plan was drafted and sent to the provincial health directorate. Many local stakeholders were brought on board such as the “Mersin Chamber of Drivers”, the “Municipal Traffic Police”, the “Municipal Department for Women and Family Services”, Accordingly, the activities were divided under 4 main pillars of action:

    • Pillar 1: Awareness raising and increased monitoring
      • Educating and raising the awareness of our municipal staff in various service units (training carried out by physicians);
      • Carrying out inspections on vehicles, namely public transportation ones (by Municipal Traffic Police Department) to ensure disinfection is done properly;
      • Informing citizens on personal care and on the epidemic;
    • Pillar 2: Health and logistical services
      • Educating health personnel on the Covid 19 and training them on necessary measures and that by the Mersin University Medical Faculty Hospital’ Infectious Diseases Department academics;
      • Measuring the fever of personnel or citizens accessing municipal services buildings, as well as the central market place, the central bus station, etc.
      • Training personnel working in “dead body washer” and cemetery services
      • Providing medications to patients;
      • Offering citizens psychologic support therapy both on-call (through hotlines) and online to reduce anxiety and stress;
      • Setting up a free of charge “Therapy for Family, Children, and Adults” support line;
      • Reducing the number of operating bus lines as well as their capacity;
      • Distributing masks to bus passengers;
      • Distributing 40 000 disposable paper soap sheets
    • Pillar 3: Disinfection
      • Disinfecting the city on a daily basis;
      • Disinfecting places of worship, schools, dormitories, nursing homes, hospitals, train stations, bus terminals, ATMs, parks, playgrounds, libraries, bus stops, handrails, stairs, benches, public institutions, and organizations and that with Ultra-Low volume liquid;
      • Cleaning services buildings on a daily basis under tight monitoring;
      • Washing roads with sea water;
      • Disinfecting minibuses, buses, and taxis in collaboration with collaboration with the Mersin Chamber of Drivers;
      • Disinfecting on a daily basis routes of the Bus Terminal, Train Station and Hospitals
    • Pillar 4: Public service and interaction with the local community
      • Distributing food packages to those in need;
      • Distributing baby care packages to mothers in need;
      • Making city buses free to healthcare workers;
      • Creating a neighborhood kitchen and 3 mobile food trucks which provide 6 days a week, free of charge meals;
      • Distributing food packages to foreign students in need;
      • Distributing milk to children in need along with free meals or food packages to the entire household;
      • Extending bill payment deadlines with regards to water and electricity and ensuring no citizen runs out of these basic services;
      • Providing free of charge medical service and regularly distributing food aid as well as milk (for children) to seasonal agricultural workers living in rural areas including; those of them who are refugees.

 

Read more: COVID-19 & Municipalities Hosting Refugees in Eastern Mediterranean countries: Challenges, Needs, and Actions 

 

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