Rapid urbanization has resulted in more than half of the world’s current population or 3.5 billion people in urban areas where one in every three or over 1 billion urban dwellers live in precarious conditions. The haphazard manner in which urban areas are rapidly growing and the proliferation of informal settlements and slums make these urban populations exceedingly vulnerable to both man-made and natural disasters with increasing risks and vulnerabilities. The rate of urbanization continues to accelerate and by 2030 the urban population is predicted to exceed five billion and 80% of these urban dwellers will reside in towns and cities of the developing world. There is a clear recognition that humanitarian crises are increasingly urban in nature as evidenced by recent crises including: Post-Earthquake Haiti (2010); the current Philippines Post-Typhoon Haiyan (2014) and on-going Syrian and regional crises in Lebanon and Jordan.
The IASC Working Group in November, 2010 endorsed the IASC Strategy for Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas (MHCUA) to improve the effectiveness of the international community’s responses to natural and man-made humanitarian crises in urban areas. The MHCUA Strategy was subsequently endorsed by IASC Principals in February, 2011. The Strategy builds upon six objectives for improving humanitarian response in urban areas: Strengthen partnerships among urban stakeholders for more effective humanitarian response, ii) Strengthen technical surge capacity with urban skills, iii) Develop or adapt humanitarian tools and approaches for urban areas, iv) Protection of vulnerable urban population against gender-based exploitation and violence, v) Restore livelihoods and economic opportunities during initial phase for expedited early recovery in urban areas, vi) and Improve preparedness in urban areas to reduce vulnerability and save lives.
The IASC Working Group converted the MHCUA Task Force, which prepared the IASC MHCUA Strategy, into the IASC Reference Group for MHCUA to coordinate the implementation of the MHCUA Strategy by participating agencies, NGOs and governments.
» Scope of Work
» The Reference Group MHCUA undertakes the following tasks:
- Track, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the recommended actions in the MHCUA Strategy;
- Provide a platform for IASC agencies, NGOs and other partners for peer review of tools and to share best practices and lessons learned from urban policies and preparedness and responses to strengthen capacity of agencies and partners working on urban humanitarian issues;
- Enhance interface with the IASC Global Clusters, IASC subsidiary bodies and NGOs on strengthening urban preparedness, humanitarian policies, capacities and tools for urban crises responses and provide advice upon request through peer reviews in addressing urban related issues in humanitarian tools and instruments; and ;
- Serve as a community of practice to share knowledge, lessons learned and promote partnerships among humanitarian organizations on urban policies, preparedness, responses and recovery issues in order to build a broader network beyond RG of agencies working on urban humanitarian issues, including by supporting the development and updating online resources.
» Methodology and Reporting Timelines
The RG MHCUA is open to membership to all international humanitarian agencies and partners, UN, non-UN, NGO and governmental with an interest in building their capacity and knowledge concerning urban humanitarian crises. Currently over eighty organizations are represented in the RG MHCUA.
The RG MHCUA convenes every two months or more often if requested by members.