COVID-19 & Informal Settlements: What’s happening on the ground in Brazil and Kenya? (Panel 1/3)

June 1, 2020 10:00 am - 11:00 am

The first of a three-part panel series co-organized by Assistant Professor Samantha Winter and Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi & Rio de Janeiro

Moderated by

ZAHIRAH MCNATT (bio), Chair of the Center for Community Health and Social Medicine and Assistant Professor at the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda



  • KENNEDY ODEDE (Kenya), Founder and CEO at Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)
  • JULIA NYAMBURA (Kenya), Local Human Rights Defender and Community Mobilizer
  • ESTHER HAMBURGER (Brazil), Professor of History of Film, Television, and Digital Media at the School of Communication and Arts of University of São Paulo
  • THIAGO NASCIMENTO (Brazil), Local Leardeship at the Jacarezinho Community in Rio de Janeiro


Over half of Nairobi’s 4.3 million residents live in informal settlements and close to a quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s 6.3 million residents live in informal settlements known, locally, as favelas. While residents of informal settlements in both Nigeria and Brazil are no strangers to preventing and managing infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS, environmental, economic, and living conditions are inhibiting them from adhering to social distancing, health, and hygiene recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and for managing its effects. The purpose of this panel discussion is to highlight the voices of local experts and community members who are living and working in informal settlements in Nairobi and Rio, along with their ideas for managing the challenges being exacerbated or created by the pandemic.


This is the first of a three-part panel series hosted by the Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi and Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro. The purpose of this series is to hear from experts and residents of informal settlements in these two populous cities about the most pressing issues they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.