PESHAWAR: Considering the gravity of the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan, particularly in the most vulnerable communities living in urban slums and informal settlements (katchi abadis), UN-Habitat has launched ‘Pakistan COVID-19 Urban Slums Response Programme’ (PCUSRP) with the objective to prevent spread of COIVD-19 in urban slums as well as empowering local communities to mitigate its economic impact.

The programme is launched in collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change, Shehersaaz, and National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) and Akhtar Hameed Khan Memorial Trust (AHKMT), Aman and Rawalpindi Waste Management Company. Pilot Implementation will be in Dhok Hassu and Dhok Mangtal, Rawalpindi, says a press release.

Advisor to the Prime Minister Malik Amin Aslam, while virtually inaugurating the ‘Pakistan COVID-19 Urban Slums Response Programme’ on Monday highlighted that the living conditions in the slums are very unhealthy and 40 percent of people living in urban slums and katchi abadis lives in one room and another 40 percent in two rooms and one toilet facility is used by 7-10 persons. He appreciated UN -Habitat and the collaborating partners for the timely intervention in the slum areas and also appreciated the objectives of the project and emphasized that besides prevention measures towards COVID-19 the proposed interventions will also create income generating opportunities. He also suggested that in addition to the stitching of masks and gloves by the women in the community, if they also stitch cloth bags , the ministry can buy back from them to create more employment opportunities. He emphasized that based on the interventions and the lessons learnt a full-scale project will be developed with the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with partners. The ministry will raise funding through NDMRF and other donors for expanding the programme country wide for mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 in urban slums.

Jawed Ali Khan, Habitat Programme Manager, highlighted that the Executive Director UN Habitat launched the COVID -19 Response Plan and campaign on 23 April 2020 in 64 countries to arrest the continuing spread of the COVID-19 crisis that threatens the most vulnerable communities, particularly living in slums and informal settlements including refugees, internally displaced people and migrants. Today Pakistan joins the other lead countries by launching Pakistan COVID-19 Urban Slum Response Programme targeting the world’s most vulnerable communities. He explained that the programme includes innovative tools include creation of virtual Community Coordination Platform IT Platform , introduction of intensive disinfectant sprays in the hotspots, streets and markets, frequent checking of body temperature through laser guns, installation of Handwashing Stations, distribution of sanitizers, masks and gloves, introduction of WASH facilities and arrangements for environmentally safe collection and disposal of solid liquid and hazardous wastes. The project will also create employment opportunities by engaging the local community to produce masks and gloves and other related activities. UN Habitat will seek cooperation from the interested federal and provincial governments, UN agencies and donors to join hands in implementing the PCUSRP at the country level.