The outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded us of the importance of local governance. From the USA to Germany and down across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) it is becoming evident that measures to deal with the health emergency require close cooperation between central and local governments. Especially in the MENA region, the pandemic has had a strong impact on the lives and livelihoods of the urban poor who cannot afford to social distance because they depend on seasonal work that does not come with paid sick leave or health insurance, and because they often live in highly dense informal housing settlements. Local and municipal governments are already at the forefront of fighting the pandemic and they will become even more important in the mitigation of its socioeconomic consequences.
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