UN-Habitat Response on COVID-19

The continuing spread of the COVID-19 crisis threatens the most vulnerable in cities and communities, particularly the one billion people living in slums and informal settlements, including refugees, internally displaced people and migrants. To address the crisis, UN-Habitat has launched an urgent COVID-19 Response Plan for 64 countries focusing on immediate action in poor and densely populated areas including in Myanmar.

UN-Habitat in Myanmar COVID-19 initiatives in Yangon and Sittwe town

  1. Awareness-raising, passing some key information, family preparedness plan, etc. by reaching out to the community through the network of CDCs, local NGO partners to reach out to 30,000 people in the areas we worked on earlier. These communities are in Hlaingthayar, Shwepyi tar, and Dala townships.
  2. Installing 60 Contact-free handwashing stations (40 in Yangon and 20 in Sittwe) in strategic locations in the communities and making them operational
  3. Mobilizing partners and urban stakeholders in mapping the actions, preparedness, and response.
  4. Mapping the locations of health services, hospitals, designated hospitals that are nearby the pockets of the slum by townships.
  5. Conducting rapid assessment on loss of employment, livelihoods, hardships, and coping mechanism to feed into socio-economic response plan and to provide policy advice, drawing attention to the vulnerable groups.

UN-Habitat COVID-19 Publications

COVID-19 PublicationShort Description
The impact of COVID-19 in informal settlements in Yangon (Survey Report)

This report provides the most comprehensive picture of the lives of residents of Yangon’s informal settlements to date. The survey was conducted in seven townships in Yangon: Hlaing Thar Yar, Dagon Seikkan, Insein, Thanlyin, Dala, North Okklappa, and Shwe Pyi Thar, between November and December 2020. The survey team selected 240 households from each township, totaling 1,680 households in seven townships.

In April 2020, UN-Habitat had conducted a rapid assessment of households in informal settlements to understand the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. While the rapid assessment surveyed 100 households from three townships over a limited set of indicators, the present survey is aimed to provide a fuller picture of both the impact of COVID-19 and the conditions, particularly access to key infrastructure and services, that could exacerbate the spread of the virus in informal settlements.

UN-Habitat Rapid Assessment of Informal Settlements in Yangon

Approximately 400,000 residents of informal settlements in Yangon find themselves at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. While it is urgent that Myanmar takes action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in informal settlements, these efforts are likely to be stymied by a lack of data on the unfolding situation on the ground. This rapid impact assessment study aims to fill this gap and presents a view of the extant conditions in informal settlements in Yangon. UN-Habitat conducted phone interviews with 100 respondents living in informal settlements in Dala, Shwepyitha, and Hlaingthayar townships in Yangon. Our study examines 6 key indicators:

- Livelihood security and household income
- Household debt
- Food security
- Security of tenure
- Access to healthcare
- Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) related to COVID-19

UN-Habitat COVID-19 Discussion Paper on Policy Options for Myanmar

The impact of COVID-19 is being most devastatingly felt in the world’s urban areas- among the 210 countries affected by COVID-19, 95 percent of all cases are in urban areas. As states around the world instruct households to stay at home and practice physical distancing, realizing the right to adequate housing is now a matter of life and death for vulnerable urban communities around the globe.

This discussion paper brings to the forefront the centrality of housing as a critical infrastructure of healthcare, highlighting four key actions as critical to protect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the vulnerable urban poor in Myanmar:

1. Focus attention on informal settlements which are uniquely vulnerable to prevent the spread of COVID-19
2. End homelessness as a public health priority by identifying and allocating shelters for the homeless
3. Ensure that no resident is evicted or displaced by announcing a moratorium on evictions
4. Protect renters and homeowners by instituting an immediate rent freeze and negotiating mortgage holidays

UN-Habitat COVID-19 Response Plan

UN-Habitat is responding to a growing volume of requests from both national and local governments to help them prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on more than 40 years of urban experience, much of it in humanitarian situations, we are focusing on the city-level response to the crisis. We are leveraging our extensive network of partners on the ground, bringing together mayors, governors, transport and utilities providers, urban NGOs, women’s and youth groups, and slum-dweller community organizations. And we will bring our catalytic support to help central and local governments, communities and UN agencies to make their work more impactful.

UN-Habitat is focusing on three major response areas to tackle COVID-19 and its impact in different urban contexts and types of communities.

1) Support local governments and community-driven solutions in informal settlements
2) Provide urban data evidence-based, mapping and knowledge for informed decision making
3) Mitigate economic impact and initiative recovery

UN-Habitat COVID-19 IEC Materials

COVID-19 IEC MaterialsCOVID-19 IEC MaterialsCOVID-19 IEC MaterialsCOVID-19 IEC Materials
Prevention Pamphlet (MYA)How to make Mask (MYA)Working in the Wet Market (MYA)Prevention Poster (MYA)
COVID-19: Family Awareness & Preparedness (MYA)Hand Washing Poster (MYA)Vaccine Pamphlet (MYA)Omicron Poster (MYA)

UN-Habitat COVID-19 News and Stories

COVID-19 News and StoriesShort Description
Community volunteers raise awareness on COVID-19 prevention in Yangon’s informal settlements

Each volunteer was trained remotely by UN-Habitat and provided a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit consisting of masks, full face vizors, gloves, and hand sanitizers.
Supporting fever clinics and hospitals serving informal settlements

In June 2020, UN-Habitat provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including N95 Masks, surgical gowns, surgical caps, full face vizors, eye goggles, rubber boots, and hand sanitizers to fever clinics in Hlaingthayar Township and Shwepyitha Townships and the Dala Township Hospital.

Informal settlements at the heart of United Nations response to COVID-19 in Myanmar

UN-Habitat is reaching out to 14,000 households in Hlaingthayar, Shwepyitha, Dala, South Dagon and Dagon Seikkan townships. These households have receiving accurate information on the symptoms of COVID-19, and key preventive actions to keep themselves and their families safe. UN-Habitat is also providing approximately 70,000 people in informal settlements with protective masks. A network of 55 hands-free hand-washing stations are being installed in key locations within informal settlements in three townships.
Community support is key to successful hand-washing stations to combat COVID-19 in Myanmar

Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, 2 June 2020 – As part of COVID-19 prevention activities, UN-Habitat installed 27 hand-free handwashing facilities in key locations including markets and bus stations in western Myanmar
Housing the urban poor is vital to combat COVID-19

U Thant Zaw Oo lives in an informal settlement in Hlaingthayar township. His family of six is dependent on him and his wife, who work as bricklayers. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, work has reduced for both of them- while his wife has been put out of work, U Thant Zaw Oo works once in three days. Due to a fall in their income, his family has been forced to take a loan of K300,000 at an interest rate of 20 percent for 24 days.

COVID-19: Relevant Documents

1) UN-Habitat’s key messages on COVID-19 and housing
2) Key messages: COVID and informal settlements
3) UN-Habitat Covid-19 Key Messages
4) UN-Habitat Covid-19 Policy and Programme Framework
5)UN-Habitat launches COVID-19 Response Plan and Campaign targeting the world’s most vulnerable communities
6) COVID-19 Prevention Actions for the Vulnerable Urban Poor