【FOCUS】Urban Innovation in ASPAC Region —— Awarded ASPAC Cities of the 5th Guangzhou Award
To advance global urban governance and innovative development, Guangzhou, the UCLG, and Metropolis created the Guangzhou Award in 2012. With every two years as a cycle, it has gone through a ten-year journey, having collected more than 1,300 cases of urban governance innovation from all over the world, and providing significant references for cities around the world to enhance their urban governance capacity. Against the background of the global pandemic, the 5th Guangzhou Award received 273 project submissions from 175 cities of 60 countries and regions.
With a large land area and population, the Asia-Pacific region is essential to the Guangzhou Award’s initiatives collection. It has a large and diverse population (4.3 billion, or 60 percent of the world’s population) and a geographical area ranging from small island developing states, landlocked developing countries to developed countries. Under this background, the Guangzhou Award submissions have demonstrated many opportunities and innovations in this region over the past cycles.
Among all the 5th Guangzhou Award submissions, 59 initiatives are from the Asia Pacific, and four of them were awarded for their outstanding contributions to urban innovation. Those initiatives show how Asian-Pacific cities stay resilient under the impact of COVID-19, ensure citizens’ health and well-being, and secure employment and household income.
Emergency Solutions to the Pandemic Challenge for Urban Medical Wastes Disposal
The Chongqing Municipal Ecological Environmental Bureau used an innovative ‘3-Level Emergency Mechanism’ to urban medical waste disposal in response to growing urban medical wastes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These solutions, combining novel technology to deal with urban medical waste disposal and strict supervision for hospitals, were implemented to ensure effective regulation of medical wastes, thus preventing secondary infection and virus spread. Chongqing also helped Wuhan construct and operate an emergency disposal center for medical wastes of COVID-19 to process medical wastes from Lei-Shen-Shan and Huo-Shen-Shan’s makeshift hospitals and other hospitals in 16 districts. This initiative directly benefits the citizens of Chongqing and Wuhan during the most challenging period of the COVID19 pandemic.
The initiative provides an innovative collaboration model based on a clear division of responsibilities, thus enabling quick emergency responses. It provides innovative emergency solutions to the disposal of urban medical waste, improves urban safety resilience under the pandemic, and alerts other cities in the world about the importance of medical waste disposal in controlling the spread of disease.
The Urban Wage Employment Initiative
COVID-19 induced national lockdown in India highlighted the economic and housing vulnerabilities of the urban labour force, which is largely composed of migrants from lagging parts of the country working in the informal sector in the primary cities. The lockdown stress led to the reverse migration of the labour force in large numbers.
Migrants from Odisha, a lagging province in India, also returned to their home state. In response, the provincial government launched the Urban Wage Employment Initiative (UWEI), whereby the urban workforce has been guaranteed a minimum number of workdays annually at a specified daily wage.
The initiative engages workers in public works, and the resources are from ongoing welfare schemes of the national and provincial governments. In addition to mitigating the impoverished urban labour force’s economic stress due to the pandemic, the local government has adopted the initiative as a long-term measure for poverty alleviation.
Bandung City Government, Indonesia
OMABA Cooking Center for Managing Malnourished and Stunting Children
Bandung is the second-largest city in Indonesia, with a population of nearly 1,700,000 people. The Riung Bandung Public Health Service proposed an initiative to help malnourished and stunting children and reduce stunting rate and mortality. The initiative adopts strategies to ensure that the supplementary food is conveyed to the targeted children, and eaten up without compulsion by improving the taste and nutrition of the processed food. The food is delivered to target children with motorcycle taxis by women organization.
The initiative has directly improved the nutritional status of children under five in the pilot district. Malnourished children’s cases number decreased from 29 in 2013 to 0 in 2019. The initiative has also facilitated its members, most of whom are females, with food-producing skills and entrepreneurship passion. The initiative is innovative because it goes beyond the conventional programs of supplementary food distribution, avoiding the mismatch between supply and demand due to government limitations and agency loss in bureaucracy. By developing a community-based cooking center that empowered local communities in handling malnutrition, processing healthy food, and conveying the food to children, the initiative succeeded in reducing the prevalence rate of malnourished and stunted children.
Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) Regulations
Berhampur is a secondary city in Odisha province in India, with a nearly 400,000 population (2011). Historically, the city does not have an underground sewer system, and the toilets are directly connected to septic tanks. Disposal of faecal sludge creates health and environmental challenges to the city. In response, Berhampur Municipal Corporation passed a resolution to adopt the Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) Regulations 2018, making it mandatory for all cesspool emptier vehicles to dispose faecal waste at the treatment plant. In addition, it also passed resolutions to partner with local women’s collectives, in each component of the FSSM value chain, for promotion of mechanized desludging and operation and management of the septage treatment plant in the city through a service contract.
Women Self-Help Groups have been engaged in building sanitary toilets to safely contain faecal waste, promoting mechanized emptying of septic tanks, operation and management of septage treatment plants, and reusing treated sludge.
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