This article first appeared in The Kampala Steward Magazine. MMC engages in content partnerships with several organizations, and cross-posting does not indicate an endorsement or agreement.
Mayors around the world have taken pragmatic action to ensure that no one gets left behind in COVID-19 response and recovery.
From providing free access to health care and direct cash assistance regardless of status, to placing moratoriums on evictions and rent hikes, to ensuring public outreach materials are multilingual, mayors are leading the way.
Kampala is no exception. Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has been recognized globally for his leadership distributing food to low-income urban residents impacted by lockdown measures.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti created a $10 million fund for families that do not qualify for unemployment, the majority of whom are immigrants. And Milan’s Mayor, Giuseppe Sala, successfully advocated for the Italian government’s regularisation of migrant seasonal workers.
These three mayors also lead the Mayors Migration Council, a coalition established to influence international migration policy and support local leaders around the world who aim to protect the most vulnerable residents while building resilience and social cohesion.
These efforts include an Inclusive COVID-19 Live Resource Guide, which is already informing global responses from UN agencies, States, and the international community.
This guide is critical as cities have tight budgets, competing priorities, and are being asked to do ‘more with less.’ This is especially true for in cities in the Global South, where migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups live in dense, informal settlements. They often face the additional challenges of informal employment, overcrowded households, limited access to public services or information in their language, fear of accessing services, stigmatization, and a lack of financial means to withstand isolation. Since the start of the crisis, the role that migrants and refugees play in the response and recovery efforts have been apparent, especially in essential jobs in healthcare and delivery services.
Lifting this up will be be critical as cities work to counter toxic narratives and misinformation, and the efforts of Kampala, Los Angeles and Milan, along with other cities from around the world, will be essential to rebuild social cohesion and provide a path forward for recovery.