9 April 2020 | AFTER successfully holding the WebShare #1, UCLG ASPAC united local governments within sub-regions in the Asia and Pacific through the WebShare #2 “Local Governments Efforts in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak”, attended by 75 representatives of cities, UNDRR, and academician. This second virtual discussion was also attended by representatives of UCLG ASPAC Governing Body: Mayor Tri Rismaharini of Surabaya, UCLG ASPAC President; Ms. Chen Yini of Guangzhou, Chair of Standing Committee of Women in Local Governments; Mayor Madelaine Alfelor of Iriga, Co-President of UCLG; and Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General UCLG ASPAC.
Exchanging cities practices during COVID-19 dominated the discussion. Mayor Tri Rismaharini of Surabaya shared that the city, in supporting local people following the #StayAtHome national policy, prepared food and distributed basic needs to families so they don’t need to go outside. Local government of Surabaya also initiated to collaborate with local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to produce masks, face protection, and self-protective equipment as well as distributed more than 30,000 masks freely to its local people. The local government also built 950 public washbasins spread within the city, 300 chambers of disinfectant, provided freely hand sanitizers at markets and for online drivers.
Mayor Madelaine Alfelor of Iriga also shared challenges faced by the city, such as availability of Personal Protective Equipment (hazmat suit, surgical masks). However, through city collaboration, city of Iriga received donation from Xi’an. In this virtual discussion, Mayor Madelaine expressed her gratitude to the city of Xi’an. In relation to this, Mayor Madelaine also added that customs bureaucracy also became one of challenge to purchase and import test kits.
Mayor Noraini of Subang Jaya shared that the city council allocated fund to buy basic need products (food, cleaning) for those who need it and also educate them to conduct proper cleaning and to disinfect their surroundings. Mayor Noraini also shared that Subang Jaya built online market platform for street sellers and SMEs directly impacted by this pandemic. Facing this situation, local government of Subang Jaya also collaborated with police and military to supervise and control movement and access block.
Mr. Rajib Shaw, from Keio University, mentioned that although COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the response should be local. Mr. Rajib shared Japan’s basic approach is finding way to flatten the peak without straining public health system. One of the efforts is through border control to prevent influx from overseas. Additionally, there is pro-active approach to the potential cases through contact tracing. In his sharing, Mr. Rajab put emphasis on the importance of data/information. In the case of Japan, government benefited from technology utilisation, such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, 5G, and Health Barcode. Mr. Rajab also shared that social capital (community engagement) in the context of disaster is very important. Ending his sharing, Mr. Rajab mentioned that pandemic does not only need a health response, but also a holistic approach.
Mr. Sanjaya, representing UNDRR, shared that Sendai Framework is a tool that city can utilise, as it recognises natural hazard in holistic efforts.
Discussion also came to a brief Q and A session that brought up matters such as efforts taken for vulnerable groups and mitigation efforts towards impacts on economy. Mayor Madelaine of Iriga shared that the city give goods to the households, governments also provide subsidies, house-to-house delivery of money with support from governments, Barangay Health Emergency Response Team help and support senior citizen and people with disabilities. In relation to efforts to mitigate impact on economy, representative from Gunsan City, Sojung Cho, mentioned an online application for local SMEs to sell their products.