The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development. In line with the New Urban Agenda, among other things, UN-Habitat seeks to assist cities in improving access and mobility through improvements in public transport and in facilities for walking and cycling (Sustainable Urban Mobility). It does so by facilitating policy dialogue, through sharing good examples and by providing technical assistance for the development and implementation of field projects that demonstrate the principles of “Sustainable Mobility”. Emerging technologies are increasingly influencing how people travel in cities and how goods are moved from place to place. UN-Habitat also seeks to work in this area with a view to achieving improved accessibility for all, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
Impact of COVID-19 in cities is a global concern and especially keeping in view the impacts on the vulnerable sections of society, such as slum dwellers. For many, remote working is not an option and people have to walk, cycle or use public transport to reach their destinations. Protection of those people from the virus infection as well as support for their livelihood is important measures to prevent the further spread of and mitigate the wider impacts of COVID-19.
COVID-19 issue has ravaged economies all over the world due to the travel restrictions put to curb the spread. Apart from the health implications, the pandemic has severely affected the mobility patterns and travel demand. Some cities have resorted to pop up bike lanes and walkways to provide for more space for NMT users. It is observed that other city dwellers have resorted to use of personal vehicles for the purpose of avoiding contact with each other as it is the norm in public transport vehicles. Most cities developed measures to combat the spread of the disease including sanitizing, wearing of masks and social distancing in public transport vehicles. Uganda for instance suspended the use of public transport vehicles to curb the spread. Kenya directed public transport vehicles to carry at half capacity and to offer sanitizers to commuters. While these measures were in good faith and a way of reducing the spread of the disease, they made public transport quite expensive for most commuters as operators adjusted fares upward to cover losses. This has, in turn, led to many commuters resorting to walking to and from their destinations despite the inadequacy of NMT infrastructure.
Increasing reliance on private vehicles in the wake of the pandemic will raise air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating the climate crisis. It is therefore important to build public confidence in public transport. Several cities across the world are also upgrading their footpaths and bike lanes so that people can move while maintaining social distance thereby reducing the risk of infection. This project provides an opportunity to review the current walking and cycling conditions in the project cities and thereby provide a basis for ‘ building back better’ and mitigate the impact of the current pandemic, while also contributing to the SDGs and the Climate goals.
It is in this context that UN-Habitat and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have teamed up to conduct a study on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mobility patterns in East African cities. This study will provide data and recommendations on how to improve mobility during this period while further equipping cities with knowledge on measures that will contribute to ‘building back better’, by making mobility safer and greener.
Data Collection Survey on COVID-19 Impact and Challenge on Public Transport
This call for expressions of interest invites governmental, inter-governmental organisations, universities, not-for-profit organisations, civil society organisations and academic institutions to collaborate under the “Data Collection Survey on COVID-19 Impact and Challenge on Public Transport, Solid Waste Management and Slum Living Condition” project supported by JICA. The objective of the project is to collect data and information related to infection risks in order to inform effective measures for reducing infection risks in the proposed areas and mitigating the impacts on the livelihood of the vulnerable. Under this Agreement of Cooperation, a mobile phone-based survey of commuters in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kampala will identify travel patterns and commuter preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Nairobi, pedestrian counts will be conducted to assess the level of crowding at major public transport hubs in the central business district. This output will be beneficial for not only understanding impact of COVID-19 on public transport but also for improving the design of pedestrian infrastructure so that people can walk more comfortably and safely between public transport stops and their work or other destinations.
Key deliverables and outcomes of this project are as follows:
- Mobility survey (Desktop research, Commuter preference survey and Field survey)
- Analysis of current mobility patterns in high-travel demand areas of the three project cities (Nairobi, Mombasa and Kampala)
- Conceptual Plan to improve Walking conditions in Nairobi
- Organization of various stakeholder meetings
The EOI should contain, but not be limited to the following:
- A concept note including background information and approach that will be applied to develop and implement the project;
- Experience of the organization in the areas of mobility, solid waste management, and data collection and to include a portfolio of projects undertaken in similar areas;
- The support/ contribution the organization is willing to make including, cash and in-kind; (contribution in terms of researchers staff time, office space and equipment and other support in cash and in-kind should be expressed in monetary terms)
- Governance and organizational structure; experience and qualifications of key professional staff and infrastructure facilities of the organization;
- Certified true copy of original Audited Account Statement for the last two years; and
- Latest annual report.
Upon selection, UN-Habitat will enter into an Agreement of Cooperation with the selected entity. UN-Habitat will contribute US$18,000 for the successful delivery of expected outputs within the planned timeframe.