COVID-19: How to Manage Recovery in Informal Settlements

Carmen Mendoza-Arroyo

Originally published in The Conversation España.

Crises caused by natural disasters or situations of conflict are always a challenge to health and habitability. They put a strain on care systems and their capability. In countries where health, housing and welfare services are already limited, these needs will be exacerbated.

Therefore, the first lesson one learns as an architect working in emergency situations is the need for contingency plans, prevention, and parameters for risk reduction.

The second is to avoid standardised solutions that do not take local factors into account.

Thirdly, it is essential to encourage a transition to responses for permanent recovery, with long-term development plans, rather than specific and ephemeral solutions.

Lastly, emergency hospitals and housing should be modular, adaptable and in keeping with the appropriate technology for the community in which they are located. It is crucial for communities to recognise the risk factors in order to limit future disasters and, thereby, strengthen their resilience.

View of Medellin informal settlement, Colombia © Milo Miloezger
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Translation by Catherine Stephenson.