Photo credit: An aerial view of Monrovia. UN/ Christopher Herwig

Humanitarian response in urban crises

by David SandersonMarch 2019

In around 2007, over half the planet’s population became urban – today there are over 4.2 billion urban dwellers and this is predicted to rise to six billion by 2045. In the last decade there has also been a sharp rise in crises affecting cities; large-scale flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis have caused widespread devastation. The number and severity of conflicts has also begun to rise, along with urban violence.

The humanitarian sector is grappling with the complexities and challenges of working in urban spaces. The Haiti earthquake in 2010 was a wake up call on the need to rethink humanitarian responses to urban crises. And a number of aid organisations have since sought to ‘urbanise’ their approaches, recognising that traditional ways of working were largely derived from rural area programming.

Yet, despite steps taken to adapt approaches to urban contexts, most practitioners still lack practical guidance. This edition of Good Practice Review seeks to fill this gap. It provides practical guidance and good practice for managers in designing, implementing and monitoring programmes.

Good Practice Review: Humanitarian responses in urban cities is commissioned and published by the Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN) at ODI with the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP).