Meeting the Urban Challenge
ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action) recently launched the paper 'Meeting the Urban Challenge: Adapting humanitarian efforts to an urban world'. The urban challenge is one which People In Aid recognises our members are increasingly facing and we looked in this paper for some insights into the staff-related impact.
The paper is especially relevant to agencies now and over the next 5 years as they look to adapt to the changing aid landscape around them.
“Rapid urbanization and the growth of megacities have for the first time in history resulted in a predominantly urban world. Such an urban explosion, most of which has been in the less developed countries, has increased human exposure to natural and anthropogenic hazards.” warn Ben Wisner and Juha Uitto in their research document on urban disasters; ‘Life on the Edge’.
Based on their Annual Meeting in January 2012, ALNAP’s paper “considers how the nature of urban space and of urban populations influences disasters in cities and outlines how the humanitarian community is adapting to address the challenges posed by urban areas.”
The paper gives a number of next steps for the humanitarian community to consider, including a chapter on rethinking disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and development. Two key observations about staff chime with our wish to re-emphasise our work on Surge Capacity (bringing it up to date and encompassing urban situations) and our contribution to the sector’s ongoing work on competencies.
First, in section 4.2 the paper stresses that “the potential scale of need generated in an urban disaster would overwhelm the human […] resources of most organisations unless they have specific approaches in place to access additional resources at short notice.”
Second, the paper states that participants at the Annual Meeting were in agreement that, to meet the upcoming humanitarian challenges, humanitarian agencies need to adapt and upgrade the skills base of their staff to address urban-based challenges by, as the paper notes, "training, recruitment, strategic partnerships or stand-by agreements".
The resilience issue emerges too, a second new approach to the sector’s work which demands fully-integrated people solutions. Highlighting the World Bank (2009)’s three-pronged approach to urbanization the paper also urges agencies to “design national and municipal policies and institutions that anticipate and maximize resilience"
Download the full paper. Spanish and French versions of the paper will be made available within the next few weeks.
Thursday 19 July 2012
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