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

Article By:

Associate | Urban Planner

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 inequalities as a diverse ethnic minority who seek validation in society.


Furthermore, 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 has been my primary focus throughout this article, as it’s the only way to help the municipalities flourish.

Today, I’ll be addressing a few crucial points related to this topic. However, before that, I’d like to highlight the issues faced by rural communities during the pandemic.

How has COVID-19 affected rural communities?

The world is more than a year into the Coronavirus pandemic, and there’s still no proven theory that density is the significant element helping the spread of the virus. No matter where we live, the best prevention is to stay 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 high blood pressure and obesity.

So, it’s not just about COVID-19, but they’re also at a higher risk of having severe illnesses after contracting the virus. In many cases, these communities have limited access to primary care with no health insurance and even lesser opportunities to work remotely.

The resilience of future rural communities

I'm sure you must be wondering -- 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 consciousness of growing and buying 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. Moreover, it will give them more opportunities to seek medical aid in healthcare facilities when needed.

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

It’s time to stop depending on foreign aid for food security; instead, educate your peers about the importance of opting for local goods. Choosing homegrown organic produce can help restore the stability of the economy as a whole. 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.

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