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The world is facing an unprecedented health crisis, as witnessed by the spread of the novel Corona virus (COVID-19). So far, the world has recorded over six million confirmed cases and over 380,000 fatalities.2 In just a few months, the pandemic has dramatically transformed the way people live, work, shop and socialize globally. Urban areas are the epicenters of the epidemic and over 95% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases are in urban areas.

COVID-19 has produced adverse impacts at an unprecedented scale and the pandemic is likely to set off a historic global economic recession. So far, the measures taken worldwide to contain the spread of COVID-19 have affected the global value chains of manufacturing, transportation, retailing and consumption. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the anticipated recession of ‘The Great Lockdown of 2020’ is estimated at -3% compared to -0.1% during the global financial crisis of 2009.4 According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), an estimated 1.6 billion people employed in the informal economy - or nearly half the global workforce - could see their livelihoods destroyed due to the decline in working hours brought on by lockdowns and curfews aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.