The range and scale of humanitarian crisis around the world is alarming. Since the early 1990s, the manifestations and understanding of humanitarian crises have changed constantly. The world is rapidly becoming urban with more than half of the population living in urban areas where one in every three urban dwellers live in precarious conditions. The manner in which urban areas are rapidly growing makes these vulnerable to both man-made and natural disasters while on the other hand the explosive growth is inducing new types of risks, vulnerabilities and potential humanitarian crisis.
The issue of rapid urbanization and how it affects humanitarian action has been raised in IASC Working Group meetings several times in 2008. In its 72nd meeting in Rome, it was agreed to add the issue of humanitarian consequences of urbanisation to the list of operational and analytical gaps, with UN HABITAT as the lead for this discussion in the IASC Taskforce on Climate Change.
The UN-HABITAT concept note on ‘’Humanitarian Consequences of Urbanization’’ was subsequently discussed at the March 2009 IASC 73rd Working Group Meeting, which endorsed the creation of an IASC Task Force with the mandate to develop a strategy for the IASC to address the humanitarian consequences of urbanization.
» Scope of Work
» The Task Force is mandated to undertake the following:
- An assessment of key strategic and practical challenges and institutional gaps in administering humanitarian assistance in urban areas;
- A set of recommendations for an IASC strategy and action plan to strengthen humanitarian operations in urban areas.
» The IASC TF are to:
- The assessment and the strategy shall focus on the following key elements:
- Briefly describe rapid urbanization;
- Define the urban characteristics from which humanitarian challenges arise;
- Assess the challenges for humanitarian assistance providers arising from rapid urbanization in thematic areas;
- Develop a strategic framework to inform the IASC response in urban areas from which agencies and organizations can derive more detailed operational sector/cluster strategies.
»Key Issues for Agencies:
Active engagement and direction by TF members will be critical to producing a set of actionable recommendations for the strategy to the IASC Working Group. Some key issues which will require substantive TF input in order to derive recommendations for how IASC agencies can more effectively deliver humanitarian assistance in rapidly urbanizing areas are the following:
- What are the implications of urban humanitarian crises for your policies, programs and practices?
- What might be some operational procedures, urban institutional partners and indicators for action that you can already suggest to assist in managing your urban humanitarian response operations and cooperation?
What new practices need to be introduced?
- What are the current gaps in your institutions and procedures for undertaking appropriate protection, relief, early recovery, prevention and reconstruction activities in urban areas?
TF members will be expected to articulate how their agency operation and coordination systems for humanitarian assistance works and how it might be re-engineered and better targeted to function within urban areas in response to the increasing urban humanitarian crises.
The task force conducts meetings in Geneva. Its members are OCHA, OHCHR, FAO, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNISDR, WFP, WHO, IOM, RSG IDP’s, ICRC, IFRC, Shelter Centre, ICVA and its International members, InterAction and International members, Concern Wordwide, URD, World Vision and SCHR. The taskforce is chaired by UN-HABITAT.
The Challange of Urban Response http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC6BtmNg33g