22 March 2022

New research on pandemic resilience among low-income communities in Colombia and South Africa

The research, with funding from the Urban Studies Foundation, will look at the local resilience of low-income communities during Covid-19.

A street in Cali, Colombia
Cali, Colombia

Dr Melanie Lombard has been successful in her funding application to the Urban Studies Foundation’s ‘Pandemics and Cities’ funding call. The project is entitled ‘From social infrastructure to pandemic resilience?: Learning from and with low-income urban communities’ and will be funded from March 2022 until February 2023.

The project explores how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected low-income communities, and these communities’ role in building local resilience. Due to both the pandemic and measures to control the spread of Covid-19, residents’ ability to meet basic needs, including food and services, has been affected. This project will examine the role that community-based organisations (CBOs) have played in responding to residents’ needs, through a focus on social infrastructure which explores activities relating to food, care, and digital inclusion.

Along with fellow lead investigators Professor Fiona Anciano (University of the Western Cape) and Dr Carlos Andres Tobar Tovar (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cali), Dr Lombard will analyse how CBOs in Cape Town, South Africa and Cali, Colombia have addressed needs relating to food, care and digital inclusion.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic era offers a unique window of opportunity to explore the vitally important contribution that community-based organisations make to resilience in low-income neighbourhoods,” said Dr Lombard. “This comparative project seeks to understand their practices in two cities, Cali and Cape Town, with the objective of expanding comparative research in future.”

The research is guided by the question: To what extent can the social infrastructure provided by community-based organisations’ pandemic response support (new understandings of) community resilience in cities? The project will use interviews, focus groups, digital diaries and documentary analysis to explore these issues with partner NGOs Isandla Institute and Predhesca, and CBOs in both cities. 

For more information, please see the Urban Studies Foundation website.