What has COVID-19 taught us about the resilient design of future rural communities?

Article By:

Intermediate Urban Designer

COVID-19 has managed to alter views on diverse aspects within a span of one year. And while many sectors are bearing the brunt of its impact, rural communities have been the most affected. The pandemic has exposed their inequal access to products and services.

The crisis has indeed been a stern teacher, showing everyone the community's limitations concerning food security, health infrastructure and employment. But it has also helped leaders and urban designers understand the importance of creating a resilient design for future rural communities. Resilience is the primary focus throughout this article, as it’s the only way to help communities flourish.A few crucial points related to this topic will be addressed. However, highlighting the issues faced by rural communities during the pandemic is important for the context.

How has COVID-19 affected rural communities?

The world is more than a year into the Corona virus pandemic, and there’s still no proof that density is a significant element facilitating the spread of the virus. No matter where we live, the best prevention is to remain at home and limit our contact with people to curb the spread.

However, despite staying indoors, rural communities have faced distinctive challenges during the pandemic. These issues have exposed their vulnerabilities and disparities regarding the integrity, management, and planning of local resources.

Medical research has shown that systemic health and social inequalities in rural areas have put residents at a higher risk of contracting the virus. And in general, rural communities in the US tend to have a higher percentage of cigarette smokers. As a result, they’re more likely to have pre-existing health conditions such as lung disease.

In many cases, these communities have limited access to primary healthcare with no health insurance and even lesser opportunities to work remotely, which forces people to go outside and interact for work and increase the probability of infection.

The resilience of future rural communities

How do rural communities survive in a global pandemic? What's keeping them afloat despite these challenging circumstances? Well, it’s simple: the resilience held by smaller municipalities and the residents of rural areas.

There should be an increase in the voluntary growing and buying of local produce.This awareness will help support the development and stability of the local economy. After all, larger metropolitan areas depend on the rural communities for food supply and protection of the regional natural environment.

And since small municipalities have a more direct source of food production, they should be considered the frontline workers in responding to the effects of food demand and supply.

In addition to ensuring food security for other parts of the country, opting for local goods and services will improve the financial stability of residents living remotely in rural areas.

A very detailed approach on why municipalities should invest in resiliency to ensure food security was studied by Malvin Soh, here at Nadi Group.

"From an urban designer's perspective, a post-COVID-19 world forces us to not only rethink potential social distancing spatial requirements but also to be more attuned to best practice in resilient planning and innovative developments through food security."

Malvin explores topics from border restrictions to urban agriculture and climate change. During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns across the globe led to shortages in food supply and trade markets. Many cities and rural municipalities now depend on the latest technologies and green infrastructure to meet the population's demands and establish a sustainable supply chain.

But agricultural space requires attention and addressed through innovative planning to foster resilient design. As such, alternative spaces, such as vacant state buildings and rooftops should be better utilized. We should employ the concepts behind green infrastructure, including rooftop gardens and green space.

The pandemic had demonstrated that depending on foreign imported food jeopardizes local economic growth and resilience; and highlighted the importance of opting for local goods; not just on the country level, but also the city or municipality. Choosing homegrown organic produce can help restore the stability and prosperity of local economies. Ultimately, it will ensure sustainable food supply and nutrition with urban resilience to climate change, public health and well-being.

So, food security planning should promote better synergy between food science industries, production and preserving the agricultural land through better planning policies.

COVID-19 has indeed affected lives in more than one way, but it has also taught the world about the importance of building a resilient design to benefit rural communities in the future.

Our goal at Nadi Group is to create communities that are both beautiful and sustainable. With our expertise, we can help urban and rural municipalities to find creative ways to keep up with resiliency and food security through green infrastructure and innovative urban design and planning.


3150 Livernois Road,
Unit 136
Troy, Michigan
Toll: 844-669-6234

289 Garry Street,
Unit 300
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 1H9
Toll: 844-669-6234

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