Urbanization and Resilience Program

Advancing knowledge on the chronic and acute needs of urban populations

Published: 
October, 2017

Introduction: Urbanization has challenged many humanitarian practices given the complexity of cities. Urban humanitarian crises have similarly made identifying vulnerable populations difficult. As humanitarians respond to cities with chronic deficiencies in basic needs stressed by a crisis, identifying and prioritizing the most in need populations with finite resources is critical.

Methods: The full systematic review applied standard systematic review methodology that was described in detail, peer-reviewed, and published before the research was conducted.

Published: 
October, 2017

Multiple recent global agendas have advanced the case for resilience to underpin humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction. These agendas have been incorporated into multiple efforts but evidence to guide action has lagged behind. This study examines a specific link, often cited through qualitative research, between social cohesion and community resilience in two urban slums of Port au Prince, Haiti. Scales to measure social cohesion and resilience are applied to these communities to develop a quantitative measure of these two characteristics.

Published: 
January, 2017

Individuals and organizations responding to humanitarian crises recognize the need to improve urban emergency response and preparedness – including the need to devise better methods for assessing vulnerability within urban populations. 

Published: 
January, 2017

This background note is part of the United Nations University project on Resilience and the Fragile City and is meant to complement the paper ‘Conceptualizing City Fragility and Resilience’ (de Boer, Muggah, Patel 2016) which formally presents the fragile and resilient cities assessment framework.

Published: 
October, 2016

This paper introduces a preliminary analytical framework that re-conceptualizes fragility and resilience at the city level. It aligns the two concepts across a range of political, social, economic and environmental factors enabling comparison across thousands of cities globally based on existing data. The framework was then partially applied to map out fragility in over 2,100 cities.

Published: 
June, 2012

This 
study 
seeks 
to 
offer 
a 
practical 
examination 
of 
resilience 
in 
complex 
urban 
landscapes
 for
 the 
academic 
community 
and 
humanitarian 
actors 
at 
the 
local 
and
international 
levels.
 Distrito
 de
 Aguablanca
 (Cali,
 Colombia),
 a
 complex
 settlement
 area
 with
 some
 600,000
 residents,
 functions 
as 
a 
case 
study in 
human
 security 
and
resilience 
that 
can 
inform 
public
 policy
 and
 community
 level
 decision
 making
 in
 especially
 difficult
 humanitarian
 environments,
 with
 sociopolitical
 volatility,
 large
 populations
 of
 internally
 displaced


Published: 
March, 2012

Rapid urbanization represents the most significant demographic change of the twenty-first century. 2008 marked the first time in human history that over half of the world population lived in urban settings. The process of urbanization, fueled by economic and social foreces, has particularly accelerated in countries in the Global South. By the year 2050, it is predicted that 70% of the world's population will live in urban settings. 

Published: 
December, 2011

As rapid urbanization creates complex environments that concentrate the risks and hazards of man-made and natural disasters, it also presents a vital advantage that must be exploited. Urban humanitarian emergencies by their very nature occur within the geo-political sphere of a governing body, the municipal government, and as such they are the responsibility of that body. It is the duty of the municipal governments to prevent and prepare for and respoond to humanitarian emergencies that may affect their citizens.

Published: 
July, 2011

This brief report reviews the health concerns that arise with rapid urbanization and confront humanitarian organizations during acute emergencies.  The authors argue that one way forward is for humanitarian organizations to learn from existing grass-roots efforts.

Published: 
September, 2010

This study evaluated the health impact of a public private partnership using microfinance to upgrade slum infrastructure in Ahmedabad, India. The authors show a statistically significant reduction in waterborne illness as a result of the intervention and point to further unmeasured benefits from the upgrade. This is an example of the data driven projects HHI is conducting to lend evidence with operational research on interventions.

Reference: Soc Sci Med. 2010 Sep;71(5):935-40.

Published: 
August, 2009

This paper describes the current rates of urbanization and the developing health consequences framed as a humanitarian crisis. The authors go on to analyze the current state of knowledge and policy on urban health. They lay out the priorities for future research and work and the role for academics, governments and international agencies to prevent the impending deterioration in global health due to rapid urbanization.

Reference: N Engl J Med. 2009 Aug 20;361(8):741-3

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About This Program

The world is rapidly urbanizing with the majority of the world’s population now living in urban areas. In many rapidly urbanizing states, the slum population now makes up over 60% of the urban populace. This demographic transition is creating complex urban landscapes with disproportionately large slums that concentrate hazards and vulnerabilities to natural and man-made disasters. As a result, humanitarian emergencies will increasingly affect urban populations. Governments will need to proactively create development and planning policies for their urban areas and preparedness plans based on evidence. Humanitarian actors must learn to respond to the unique challenges of urban contexts while exploiting the advantages. HHI is taking the lead on these complex topics by determining how to appropriately prepare for and respond to urban humanitarian emergencies and the chronic crisis facing urban slum populations. Through the Urban Emergencies Program, we advance knowledge on the chronic and acute needs of urban populations, address these challenges and investigate program and policy solutions. We partner with local actors, government authorities, international agencies and non-government organizations that have the ability to scale up our work and have an immediate impact.