Crises, such as disasters, forced migration, conflict and violence are
occurring in urban areas with increasing frequency and intensity. The
impacts of climate change may increase crises in future. However,
humanitarian actors are finding that responding to crises in urban areas
presents a new set of challenges. This includes a need for different
ways of working than those previously established for humanitarian
response in rural areas.
This literature review, commissioned by DFID Humanitarian Policy and
Partnerships Group, CHASE, looks at the current evidence-base on
humanitarian response and development in urban areas, drawn from
published academic literature and humanitarian agency reports.
The review is structured around four main themes: complex and diverse
communities; infrastructure systems; markets; and local governance
structures and capacities. Its purpose is to identify key knowledge and
evidence gaps and areas where further research is needed to inform more
contextually appropriate and inclusive approaches to urban humanitarian
response. Key knowledge and evidence gaps include the need to better
understand urban systems such as urban markets, infrastructure,
institutional systems and social relations in urban contexts, local
recovery processes, and the experiences and perceptions of local
humanitarian actors, including local governments, non-governmental
organisations and affected people. Particular attention is also paid to
the impacts (direct and indirect) that both crises and humanitarian
interventions have on urban areas over-time.
The review concludes by outlining a research agenda for supporting
evidence-based humanitarian action in urban settings, including the need
to: create platforms for local actors to engage in humanitarian debates,
learning and research; create more robust evidence by triangulating
different types of information from multiple actors and affected people;
increase understanding of urban contextual issues and conditions;
broaden learning of the humanitarian community to other fields,
including urban development and human settlements; and expand research
timeframes to encompass longitudinal studies and offer platforms for
coordination for research across humanitarian agencies.
Brown, D.; Boano, C.; Johnson, C.; Vivekananda, J.; Walker, J. Urban Crises and Humanitarian Responses: A Literature Review. Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL, London, UK (2015) 68 pp.