Mapping urban pandemic risk hotspots and overcrowding in Rwanda

Project Active from to COVID-19

As Rwanda's COVID-19 count enters a period of relative stability due to a highly effective public health response, policymakers are turning their attention to the best way to lift social-distancing restrictions in a manner that allows businesses and social engagements to resume while simultaneously ensuring adequate public health.

Key questions for the government in relation to this are:

  • How to phase the removal of social distancing policies; and
  • How to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are not adversely affected by the removal of the lockdown.

The motivation of this study is to map population density in a manner that might assist policymakers identify pandemic risk hotspots, but also identify overcrowded neighbourhoods more generally, which is of interest from a housing and urban growth perspective. The map deploys a methodology that has already been codified and used by the World Bank but will contextualise some key elements to make it relevant in a Rwanda context, including using Rwanda specific Building Heights data, using Kigali-specific administrative units and ranking these units for the benefit of policymakers, and estimating Rwanda specific accessibility measurements to estimate potential "contagion" effects form high-risk areas on the rest of Kigali.

It is hoped that insights from this project may enable notable policymakers such as National Police, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, and the City of Kigali, to spatially coordinate and target their efforts as city-wide COVID-19 social-distancing measures are lifted. To our knowledge, there is no other stakeholder currently looking at the risk of COVID-19 across specific communities in Kigali in such a geographically disaggregated manner, and our methodology should yield hitherto unknown insights.

We expect that the map and ranking of communities we will provide can help authorities prioritise scarce resources for pandemic risk mitigation - including hand washing, controlled movement and crowd control - in areas that would need it.