COVID-19 and Vulnerable Urban Children

A Rapid Assessment of UNICEF’s Early Response to COVID-19 in Urban Settings in Brazil, India, and Spain


  • Sudeshna Chatterjee WRI-India Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, New Delhi
  • Denis Jobin UNICEF Evaluation Office, New York
  • Chandrani Dutta Independent Consultant, Kolkata


COVID-19 response, urban vulnerability, children and adolescents, urban programming, UNICEF, slums and informal settlements


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of cities around the world and has exposed underlying vulnerabilities of urban settings with implications for children’s wellbeing. The authors conducted a rapid assessment for the UNICEF Evaluation Office to gauge the flexibility and agility of UNICEF’s different urban programming approaches in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The assessment focused on three countries—Brazil, India, and Spain—where UNICEF is actively engaged in urban programming using three different approaches: integrated, multi-sectoral, and Child-Friendly Cities Initiative. Drawing from the rapid assessment, the paper presents lessons from the three countries for future programming and emergency preparedness for the most vulnerable children in urban settings, particularly those in slums and informal settlements.

Author Biographies

Sudeshna Chatterjee, WRI-India Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, New Delhi

Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee is an urbanist, urban planner/designer, researcher, evaluator, and educator. As an international consultant, she has completed projects in 18 countries, conceptualizing and leading multi-city and multi-country research and evaluation for UN and other global organizations. Dr. Chatterjee is also the founder of the non-profit organization, Action for Children’s Environments (ACE), which seeks to improve the living, learning, and play environments of children, particularly the most vulnerable. She is the lead editor of the book: Leaving No Child and No Adolescent Behind: A Global Perspective on Addressing Inclusion through the SDGs. Dr. Chatterjee successfully co-led the first corporate evaluation of UNICEF Work for Children in Urban Settings and while serving as UNICEF headquarters’ consulting senior evaluation specialist, designed and led the rapid assessment of UNICEF’s COVID-19 response reported in this paper. Currently, she is serving as a Program Director (Research) at the WRI-India Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities.

Denis Jobin, UNICEF Evaluation Office, New York

Denis Jobin is a Senior Evaluation Specialist in the Evaluation Office at UNICEF Headquarters in New York. He managed the corporate evaluation of UNICEF Work for Children in Cities in 2019-2020 which included a rapid assessment of COVID-19 response when the pandemic ravaged countries around the world and particularly urban areas. Denis has more than 22 years of experience in the fields of program evaluation, performance measurement, and performance audit, and a rich understanding of governments and the work of the United Nations. Before coming to UNICEF Headquarters, he was the Chief of Programme Monitoring and Evaluation and Field Coordination in UNICEF Nigeria. Prior to that, he has also worked for Canadian federal organizations, including the Office of the Auditor-General.

Chandrani Dutta, Independent Consultant, Kolkata

Dr. Chandrani Dutta is an independent researcher and consultant working on international and national projects. Her research interests include contemporary urban policies, marginal communities living in slums, and urban exclusion. Dr. Dutta was part of the team that conducted the rapid assessment of the Impact of Covid-19 on Urban Settings and Implications for UNICEF’s Programming in Cities undertaken by UNICEF as part of the Evaluation of UNICEF Work for Children in Urban Settings. She is currently engaged by UNICEF headquarters as an independent consultant on other projects. She has a Ph.D. from the Centre for the Study of Regional Development (CSRD), School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.





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