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Urban Community Resilience Amidst the Spreading of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): A Rapid Scoping Review

School of Strategic and Global Studies, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta 10340, Indonesia
National Research and Innovation Agency, Jakarta 10340, Indonesia
Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Indonesia, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(17), 10927;
Submission received: 20 July 2022 / Revised: 30 August 2022 / Accepted: 31 August 2022 / Published: 1 September 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Community Resilience and Sustainable Urban Governance)


This article aims to examine the existing current studies in urban community resilience related to the pandemic (COVID-19 Pandemic) and to raise a sense of urgency in future research for the model building of urban community resilience during the next pandemic if any. Our review is based on 47 articles considered eligible following inclusion and exclusion criteria after identifying, screening, and prioritizing the title and abstract of 703 records. The insights are organized by three indicators that affect community resilience. The first is the urban community’s vulnerabilities during a particular pandemic. Second, the types of community organizations in dealing with the impact of the pandemic. Third, key dimensions to build community resilience. We draw some intriguing takes for future research that needs to focus on community resilience after the pandemic cases have hit the ground, as a need to draw lessons for the new normal and future challenges and to examine the social learning and transformation process to establish community resilience.

1. Introduction

Based on 90% of all reported COVID-19 in the world, urban areas become the pandemic’s epicenter due to population size and high-level global connectivity, rather than rural areas [1]. Urban research related to pandemics focuses on marginal groups who have difficulty accessing health facilities, particularly in informal settlements. Amid a pandemic, insufficient isolation for COVID-19 patients may be related to the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases [2]. Lockdown has worsened economic conditions for informal workers in urban areas, a study said that the lack of labor market opportunities, livelihood advancement, and occupational mobility for informal workers make it difficult to survive in the city [3]. Loss of income due to the lockdown has made marginal communities in urban areas more vulnerable because they have to bear the changing needs of life during the pandemic [4]. Scholars started to research urban planning, design, and management and then developed an effort to prepare, respond and adapt [5,6].
During the pandemic stage, many urban communities adapt and generally function in crises. In developing and developed countries, emerging urban farming communities contribute to feeding and providing nutrients sufficient for food-insecure communities because of the increase in food prices during the pandemic [7,8]. The lack of adequate health facilities, insufficient number of health workers, long food supply chains, and limited social security during a pandemic send a message that facing this unknown disaster requires the full participation of the community. Much evidence found that community participation and implementation at a local level can improve effective practices to combat COVID-19 [9]. It is similar to a previous pandemic situation, such as Ebola, where community participation is an agency to reduce the effect and mitigate the risk of the virus [10].
While resilience is the adaptive capacity [11], community resilience links a network of adaptive capacity [12]. Adaptive capacity is a process that develops over time and interacts with the environment [13,14], resilience in the social system was outlined as a process to learn or transform rather than the status quo or stability [12,15]. Adaptive capacity for a community in this understanding is similar to the community adaptability proposed by Matarrita-Cascante et al. [16], which is the community’s ability to respond to current and future changes. Interestingly, a community can respond to changes quickly and maintain the system, but some communities are slow to react and disrupt the system. However, if we look back to where COVID-19 started—Wuhan, some communities can be named as vulnerable, alienated, and inefficient communities that have lower risk resilience where spatial resilience constitutes the key influencing factor of COVID-19-susceptible communities compared to three other resilience factors: social, capital and governance [17].
Indeed some literature to date offer insights related to community resilience and the COVID-19 pandemic based on literature reviews. Fransen et al. [18] used a literature review and an exploratory study to identify pathways within which community resilience initiatives emerge within the government context and eventually concluded that all pathways type face similar barriers, such as funding, weak networks and limited cooperation. Meanwhile, a rapid scoping review highlighted the urgent need for the role of social cohesion and its measurement methodology, instruments, and techniques in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic [19]. In this paper, the authors will first explore the existing research focused on urban community resilience related to the COVID-19 pandemic since it has not become an interest to many scholars. Second, we highlight insights and a future research agenda to build community resilience in an urban area to cope with the pandemic in the future if any. The results of this review will assist in identifying the capacity created within the community to improve community adaptation in dealing with the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also examines how the resilience that is built is transformative to face the pandemic that will occur in the future.

2. Method

The steps in the scoping review method are identification, screening, eligibility, and inclusion following the PRISMA Flow method [20]. The literature search was carried out on academic literature sourced from five review journal databases with the keywords and Boolean operators: Community resilience OR Community adaptation AND Urban Community AND COVID-19 OR Pandemic. In total, the search found 703 academic articles consisting of empirical research, review, book section, and commentary. We include papers written in English and on the topic of community resilience in urban areas and disasters concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Resilience literature related to individual resilience [21,22], state resilience [23,24], and health systems resilience without being linked to community resilience [25,26] were not included. The authors define a community as a group of people in a specific geographic area, such as in particular neighborhoods [27,28,29] and focused on urban community areas. The inclusion and exclusion criteria in the publication screening can be seen below.
  • The inclusion criteria for finding publications are:
    Paper regarding cities/urban and community resilience during pandemics and other shock/disaster from any country (including vulnerability, capacity, adaptation, responses to the COVID-19)
    Written in English
    Published from 2019 to 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic affected society
    Literature in observational commentaries, frameworks, conceptual models, literature reviews, and empirical evidence was included in this review.
  • The exclusion criteria of those excluded from this review:
    Emphasize the articles are different from community resilience.
    The study focus is other than the urban community.
    The articles discussed the impacts of COVID-19 with unverified adaptation, concrete solutions, or research gaps.
The screening process begins by identifying the title and abstract (703 literature), then screening duplicate articles and finding 89 duplications of literature. The next stage is screening based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality criteria applied were based on the standard criteria developed for SLR at Cranfield University, including contribution, theory, methodology, and data analysis. According to the research objectives, 53 pieces of literature were selected and reviewed in full-text content to see the eligible articles. However, after reading the entire text in more detail, six papers were issued because they did not focus on community resilience. The exhaustive literature that can be analyzed for scoping reviews is 47 articles. Selected articles came from 46 journals and one proceeding. The stages of the literature search method using the PRISMA diagram are shown in Figure 1.

3. Results

3.1. Urban Community Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Although urban areas are considered to have better health facilities than rural areas, urban locations have a higher risk of spreading the virus due to population density, higher health and diabetes risk, a transportation hub, and acute housing distress [30]. The social aspect is more in the spotlight of vulnerability than the physical aspect in urban community resilience research. During the pandemic, vulnerability studies in urban areas are more directed at groups of people living in informal settlements [31,32] and people in urban ethnic minorities [33,34,35]. Being unable to afford basic needs, cannot purchase food, homeless without the chance to access any public services are vulnerabilities for certain groups in urban services [36,37,38]. Lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene (wash) is emphasized in informal settlements because they are not connected to the national water grid [39]. The need for clean water is not enough to meet the increasing consumption needs during the pandemic, including for consumption and washing hands. In addition, the lack of public awareness in informal settlements caused stigma against people infected with COVID-19 to be a barrier to health-seeking [31].
The issue of food insecurity is discussed when urban people depend on food vendors on the street during the lockdown; moreover, some people with reduced income or even total loss of income make households unable to meet their daily consumption. This vulnerability occurs in migrant communities, ethnic minorities, and groups living in informal settlements [32,39,40]. Regarding food insecurity, there are gaps distinguishing participants who have insecure food because of the impact of COVID-19 or difficulties experienced before COVID-19 [7,41].
Vulnerability in marginal groups in urban areas can also be seen in the limited involvement of informal residents in planning the COVID-19 response [31] which causes a loss of trust in governance [34]. In the case of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, Maudrie et al. [34] describe that certain ethnic minorities in urban areas still experience inequality of access to health services. This problem occurs because the existing population data are not based on a particular ethnic minority basis, so this ethnic group is often not considered in the health planning involvement. Conditions are increasingly vulnerable when COVID-19 causes a reduction in the budget for minority communities.
Understanding risk in all its dimensions, precisely vulnerability, capacity, exposure, and hazard characteristics, aims to achieve resilience and Disaster Risk Management [42,43] Using this approach, in this review, the authors try to create a matrix of vulnerability characteristics, affected groups of people, and how the strategies are carried out from the empirical study found in the scoping review process, as shown in Table 1 below.

3.2. Initiative Community Organization

Community engagement has become a topic of discussion in tackling epidemics, such as malaria, HIV, and Ebola [44,45]. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, community engagement has also become a research theme in prevention and control efforts, not only in liberal but also in communist countries. In Vietnam, the government successfully engaged migrant workers in controlling COVID-19. In that study, the authors emphasize the availability of resources, appropriate capacity strengthening, transparent and continuous communication, and a sense of trust in government legitimacy as the basic formula to engage the community [46].
A survey conducted by Fransen et al. [18] mapped organizational types built at the community level in dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic in 42 cities in 32 countries. In Table 2, it can be summarized that there are four typologies of Initiative Community organization in coping with COVID-19 (1) Bottom-up informal pathway (2) Bottom-up formal pathway (3) Hierarchic initiatives (4) Networked initiatives. The most common form encountered during this pandemic is the bottom-up informal pathway type followed by the formal bottom-up and networked initiative. Hierarchies are the least visible form of organization in dealing with the impact of COVID-19 [18].

3.3. Key Dimensions in Building Community Resilience amid COVID-19 Pandemic

3.3.1. Social Capital

Social capital and participatory capacity have the highest score of urban resilience to deal with the pandemic [47]. There are three types of social capital used to facilitate access to health systems and social support systems [48], which are social bonds (within community members), social bridges (with other communities), and social links (with the state). The three types have different levels within each community and community organization, depending on the community organization initiative [18]. Almost every study on community resilience that discusses social capital relates to Putnam’s concept from 1993 to 2000, considering the community’s capacity to deal with various crises [18,49,50,51,52,53].
Another approach that is seen from social capital in the COVID-19 situation gives the name “communing”, derived from the word common in Ostrom’s book, which means shared resources that are collectively used and managed by a local community [54]. This concept is used in response to conditions where budget cuts and privatization of the health system led to inequality within society. In this study, in terms of commonly arguing that the impossibility of fully immunizing ourselves from the virus (and from each other), people have to consider themselves as part of a community, bound not by shared properties but by a shared obligation [55]. The term solidarity is the key to the communication approach.
Studies in Africa approach the concept of communality to examine Ubuntu culture. Where people with middle-income help provide support for school feeding programs for children affected by COVID-19 in poor community groups in urban areas, in conclusion, the Ubuntu concept contains two sets of complementary values: the first focused on communality, group solidarity, co-responsibility, social justice, and sharing, and the second on respect, dignity, value, acceptance, and belonging. These two values are vital elements in building community resilience in Africa [56].
Another term used to explain social capital’s role is virus-combat social capital. This concept defines social connectedness under physical isolation in China. Based on the survey in Chinese, people with higher virus-combat social capital do better in both behavioral responses (such as preventive habitus, social support, problem-solving) and measures of quality of life (such as positive coping, harmful copying, self-rated health, subject wellbeing) [49].
In one Jewish case, Communal infrastructure and social capital are the critical dimensions for community response to COVID-19 [36]. Sharing material and mental support within the Orthodox Jewish communities was identified as a potential risk factor for acquiring COVID-19 and possibly a protective element in dealing with disaster [57]. Another study states that solidarity in social capital is the solidarity within the community and needs to be incorporated into public institutions in order to increase participation and global health decision-making [58].

3.3.2. Social Innovation

Three articles provide empirical evidence of social innovation in urban communities in the face of COVID-19. Although the explanation is similar to social capital, the two articles emphasize that social innovation occurs when external actors outside the community provide intervention to the community. The first study takes the case of the American Indian urban community. When the American government reduces the Urban Indian Health Programs (UIHP) budget, the American Indian community must partner with other community organizations—including a Black-led food sovereignty movement within Baltimore City—to serve the AI/AN community [34].
The second study is a support program for local communities and students around Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the Finger Lakes region of New York via the (accessed on 21 June 2020) website. The University helps provide food assistance and financial assistance opportunities for local communities and students during social distancing. The website also presents several art performances to entertain the audience during the scary situation of the COVID-19 Pandemic [59]. Another case is a vaccine collaboration program to help marginalized communities obtain vaccines through the Community Vaccine Collaborative [60]. Social innovation is needed in the poorest populations, conflict zones, prisons, and refugee camps to promote new forms of collective action and solidarity, reducing negative impacts due to unequal conditions [61].
Although social innovation is an element in responding to the community’s emerging needs and generating benefits for the community during a crisis, not all communities have access and justice in obtaining social innovation programs, particularly the process of emancipation for the urban poor [62,63].

3.3.3. Local Resource and Decentralization

The failure of a top-down approach in disaster management is why a bottom-up approach through a more decentralized and socially sustainable community empowerment system is considered more practical because it builds sustainable risk management at all levels of society. This sustainable risk management should increase understanding of the social dimensions of disasters. It should also identify, engage, and strengthen the capacity of local communities to learn from local vulnerabilities, social risks, and impacts of disasters and transform positively towards improving community welfare [64]. The local community must design mitigation in COVID-19 to define its problems, challenges, and adaptation funds to mitigate COVID-19, and build community resilience [65].
The centralized approach in the early period of COVID-19 in China in 2019 showed that the government’s role in increasing collaboration with the community was also by developing emotional communication. This communication was not considered to increase public trust in the government and the surrounding environment [66]. From the results of a rapid desk review, Kimani et al. [39] also found that centralized handling of COVID-19 will tend to increase poor accountability for assistance to the ‘most vulnerable’. It will cause tension, distrust, and insecurity among communities that are already vulnerable. His study suggested that in disaster management, the community should lead data conducted to validate rights claims, increase accountability for distribution, and expand income support needed to build solidarity and improve the future resilience of these communities [39]. The literature also shows that residents, leaders, and community-based groups should be involved and resourced to develop locally appropriate control strategies in partnership with government and local authorities in addressing vulnerabilities in informal urban settlements [67].
The evaluation study of community engagement shows that external stakeholders, such as the master garden program from the University successfully encouraged community involvement because the community is wholly involved in identifying needs, planning programs, locally-owned resources, and program implementation to monitoring [68]. Studies in South Africa also show that the strategy to achieve food security through local production, local distribution, and food-saving infrastructure is able to respond to the disturbance [56].
In a case in Turkey, there are clear links between public health agencies and the communities to ensure health outcomes. This study shows empirical evidence from history that occurs when communities are fully involved in handling disaster victims, places of isolation, use of transportation systems, protecting the natural environment, and providing clean water which can increase strength in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic [9]. In the case of a small island, such as Samoa, where the government cannot bear the loss of public health, the health system’s efforts to deal with COVID-19 are to improve community skills and increase community involvement in health services together with the Red Cross–Red Crescent Movement [69].

3.3.4. Technology and Capacity Building

The theme of technology was discussed a lot in studies during the COVID-19 period, not only on data collection methods but also on technology as part of building community capacity in facing restrictions due to lockdowns. Fear of the risk of being infected with COVID-19 has encouraged the education community and workers to increase their willingness to change by leveraging social networks around the education community and promoting collective action in community groups who have access to change methods of learning and working online [70].
The movement to utilize social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and other social media is a strategy for the restaurant owner community in Tokyo to survive during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In a situation where there are no tourists and social activities, restaurant owners use social media to promote menus and sell and deliver them to local consumers in their communities. This new change in selling also helps local consumers still obtain food without leaving the house [71].
Furthermore, social media is used as a bridge to provide literacy in responding to the pandemic by increasing community engagement and participation through (1) past and memory; (2) places; (3) voice and wisdom; (4) recognition and solidarity and (5) participation and learning [52]. Invitations primarily drive social action movements in informal settlement communities in Latin America through social media [32]. During the fight against COVID-19, technology increases the efficiency and capacity of network governance at the community level, not only in coordinating human resources but also in self-government through pro-democracy [66,72]. In the case of Pakistan, public knowledge of the pros and cons of issues is widely obtained through social media, and even social media can influence positive behavior in alertness to various threats [73].
Technology is a tangible asset that can increase population participation, transparency of government systems, and social connectedness from urban planning. During a pandemic, technology plays a role in improving the physical and mental health of the population and helping to maintain the function of education and work systems amid the limited mobility of the city’s population [74]. Another study shows that digital infrastructure can strengthen health care quality with an online platform for consultation [75]. However, there are several challenges and barriers to applying technology in crisis management, such as privacy, confidentiality and trust, social inclusivity, political bias and the spread of misinformation, technical problems, and urban functioning in the education and employment [74].
Disaster risk is commonly understood as the interaction of exposure, social vulnerability, and insufficient risk reduction [15]. The variation in risk experienced by a community depends on how much vulnerability it shares. The study literature on exposure in dealing with COVID-19 varies based on economic conditions, political institutions, culture, biophysical, and psychological conditions. When there is a hazard, or insufficient risk reduction, it will cause the community to experience food shortages, loss of trust in the government, inability to access health services, loss of income, poor housing, and lack of water and sanitation during the COVID-19 situation. Efforts made by the community in reducing the risks faced are carried out by optimizing social capacity through optimizing social capital, social innovation, local and centralized resources, as well as providing technology to the community so that they continue to carry out their functions of work, study, and so on. Increasing local capacity makes the community more resilient. The overall relationship between those above dimensions can be seen in Figure 2.

4. Conclusions

Although COVID-19 is not the first pandemic globally, its risks cause changes in all aspects of life and cause harmful impacts, especially in marginalized community groups. Urban areas are a concern because they are the epicenter of the virus due to population density, high mobility, and many vulnerable communities due to certain minorities or lack of access to basic needs in informal settlements. Community resilience is an effort that must be improved amid the country’s limitations in providing a health system and bearing the economic and social losses of the community. The review shows that the range of existing resilience is still limited to the community’s ability to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and meet basic needs during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the community’s efforts to reduce the harmful impact of the pandemic were through various institutions, both bottom-up and hierarchically, where the resources they have for protection can come from the community itself or networks within the community. The level of community involvement also varies depending on the characteristics of the neighborhood [18]. As with community resilience due to disasters, such as climate change, the capacity of a community to reduce negative impacts depends on the key dimensions that exist within the community, namely the level of social capital, social innovation, local resources, and centralized decision-making. Amid a pandemic, the presence of technology as part of city development can increase the capacity of urban communities to deal with a disaster.
Community resilience in several studies has begun to be discussed using social capital, building technology, creating social innovation, and using local resources and decentralization. However, these studies are limited to connecting social learning and transformation as a core of resilience in society. According to Imperiale & Vanclay [15], disturbances are windows of opportunity for the social actor to learn and transform. Cognitive learning and interaction between actors can create an ability to adapt to a crisis, empower their local abilities, mitigate risks and impacts, and enhance wellbeing [16,76]. Studies about resilience can help our societies reduce disaster risk, adapt to all kinds of disasters, and develop strategies to develop more sustainably and efficiently [77].

5. Further Research Implications

Through this article, we have been trying to draw insights from the current research to date. The following agendas hopefully are of interest to future researchers since the study on community resilience is rather emphasized in dealing with COVID-19 in the first peak period of the pandemic. Study after the COVID-19 case has hit the ground is required, as there is a need to draw lessons for the new normal and future challenges. Then, as the included articles have not been linked to the social learning and transformation processes, it is critical to make such a linkage, see Figure 2. This linkage will be in line with the argument from Imperiale and Vanclay [15] that the experiences in past crises are an opportunity for the community to learn the cognitive process to empower their local abilities, mitigate risks and impacts, and enhance wellbeing [16,76]. Furthermore, the need for analysis from the perspective of interactions between actors from different levels of social-ecological governance in building community resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic would also be a crucial interest. However, this empirical review shows that technology has an essential role in increasing the capacity of the urban population to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic even though the study of the inequality of access to technology for urban residents has been less discussed.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, V.N., A.S. and C.; methodology, V.N. and A.S.; writing—original draft preparation, V.N.; writing—review and editing, A.S.; visualization, A.S.; supervision, A.S. and C.; funding acquisition, A.S. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This review article is supported by Universitas Indonesia under contract number: NKB-512/UN2.RST/HKP.05.00/2021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. PRISMA Flow Diagram.
Figure 1. PRISMA Flow Diagram.
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Figure 2. Community Resilience System During Pandemic COVID-19 Based on Included Articles.
Figure 2. Community Resilience System During Pandemic COVID-19 Based on Included Articles.
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Table 1. Mapping of Vulnerability and Copying in Facing COVID-19.
Table 1. Mapping of Vulnerability and Copying in Facing COVID-19.
VulnerabilityGroup PeopleCoping Strategies
Lack of Primary health careMinority groups in urban and suburban with the limited protectionsolidarity among communities during Pandemic COVID-19
Food shortage
Low-income groups with significant or completed loss of income
Refugee, immigrant, or racial and ethnic minority backgrounds
Borrow money to buy food and eat less
Create project delivery food for vulnerable
Support of communal kitchens Urban farming for secondary urban in Indonesia
Loss IncomePeople with low-paid in informal jobsStimulate the local economy
Poor housingInsecure tenure, overcrowding, and the lack of adequate basic sanitation infrastructureSubsidy for the rent cost and supply free water and electricity
Loss of trust in governanceMinority raceIncrease emotional communication with the community and engage local and minority races in planning
Lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)People in the informal settlement are not connected to the national water gridDeveloped a strategy for enhancing fair distribution of water and preventing people from clustering in one area
Stigma of COVID-19The lack of messaging from the government to address misinformation
in informal settlements
Collaboration among communities & visit home to promote information and identify symptomatic patients
Table 2. Type of Initiative Community During COVID-19.
Table 2. Type of Initiative Community During COVID-19.
Type Initiative CommunityTarget CommunityChallengesOpportunities
Bottom-up informal pathwayFocus on emergencies to adapt to the hardships of the lockdown for low-income settlements, especially to meet basic needs, such as water sanitation and food.Lack of government participation and small government funding.High community engagement
Bottom-up formal pathwayFor specific target groups or neighborhoods in area-based approach to provide basic needs, COVID-19 prevention, microfinance.Lack of government participation and small government funding.Financial support from the funding organization
Hierarchic initiativesInitiated by a single external actor, such as universities, government, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and the private sector.Low level of community bondingMany resources available from external actors
Networked initiativesCreated by diverse stakeholders, triggered by food and income insecurity and weak health infrastructure.Low level of community trust
and community empowerment
Lots of funding and expertise resources are provided by the government and external actors
Source: Adapted from Fransen et al. [18].
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Ningrum, V.; Chotib; Subroto, A. Urban Community Resilience Amidst the Spreading of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): A Rapid Scoping Review. Sustainability 2022, 14, 10927.

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Ningrum V, Chotib, Subroto A. Urban Community Resilience Amidst the Spreading of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): A Rapid Scoping Review. Sustainability. 2022; 14(17):10927.

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Ningrum, Vanda, Chotib, and Athor Subroto. 2022. "Urban Community Resilience Amidst the Spreading of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): A Rapid Scoping Review" Sustainability 14, no. 17: 10927.

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