Building Urban Economic Resilience During and After COVID-19

EcoPlan International supported the United Nations  Economic Commission for Africa with  “Building Urban Economic Resilience During and After COVID-19“, which aimed to fortify local governments’ capacities to create and monitor resilient COVID-19 response plans. This initiative, carried out in partnership with UNECA, UN-HABITAT, and UNCDF, focuses on three African cities: Accra, Harare, and Yaoundé. The project aimed to understand and improve the resilience of local economies and urban finances amidst the pandemic. A two-stage DA13 process, involving a diagnostic assessment and recovery plans integration into city planning, assessed impacts on urban economic resilience through 63 performance indicators spanning five dimensions: local business environment, labor market, financial environment, economic governance, and infrastructure.


  1. Labour Market Flexibility:
    • The pilot cities showed vulnerabilities in labor market flexibility and social protection.
    • Gender inequity and informal employment emerged as significant issues.
  2. City Planning:
    • The cities exhibited moderate to low levels of economic leadership and strategic planning.
    • Proactive crisis management backed by quality data was identified as crucial for resilience.
  3. Economic Diversity:
    • All cities displayed strength in economic diversity but require further efforts to enhance resilience.
  4. Fiscal Strength:
    • The cities showcased moderate fiscal performance but experienced a decline in tax revenues between 16 and 50 percent due to the pandemic.
  5. Health Service Coverage:
    • The cities performed well in health service coverage, although other services and infrastructure faced challenges.


The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the economic and financial stability of African cities. Local governments faced challenges such as decreased revenues, heightened pandemic response spending, and challenges in progressing towards SDGs and Agenda 2063. Particularly affected were informal sector workers, women, and families.  The experiences of Accra, Harare, and Yaoundé provide valuable insights into urban economic resilience. The findings underscore the importance of adaptive labor markets, robust city planning, economic diversity, fiscal strength, and strong health and infrastructure systems in building resilient cities. The project  emphasizes that these lessons are crucial for shaping future policies and fostering sustainable, resilient, and inclusive recovery and growth.