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DeCID Handbook – A practical guide for co-designing built interventions with children affected by displacement in the urban context

Riccardo Conti


date June 29, 2022 | 11:15 - 12:15
Urban Expo: Urban Library room
United Kingdom
Equitable urban futures
UL 12


Based on their award-winning work, CatalyticAction and the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (University College London) teamed up with UNICEF and UN-Habitat to develop a practical handbook for the co-design of built interventions with children in displacement contexts.

At the World Urban Forum 11, the project team will present the DeCID Handbook, illustrating key concepts and steps to achieve empowering co-designed built interventions with children. Children make up around half of the refugee population worldwide, and 40% of the 80 million displaced people globally. Approximately two-thirds of displaced people live in urban areas, the large majority in developing countries (UNHCR 2020). The quality of spaces available to children has an important impact on child development and wellbeing as it affects a number of children’s rights including play, health, safety and learning. Co-designing built interventions with children affected by displacement can:

  • empower children and have a lasting positive impact;
  • improve social cohesion, inclusion, social capital, and integration between refugee and host communities, and within the refugee community;
  • have a positive impact on the local economy, build capacity and provide employment; and
  • deliver better social infrastructures (child-friendly urban public spaces, including open public spaces, streets and public facilities such as schools and playgrounds) for children and their communities.

The DeCID handbook was born out of a lack of practical guidelines on co-designing built interventions with children affected by displacement in the urban context. In partnership with humanitarian actors, children and their local communities, municipalities, contractors, and academics, the DeCID team developed a practical handbook to support those involved in the co-design of such built spaces.

Recently, CatalyticAction and its partners (including UNICEF and UN-Habitat) have been heavily involved in the reconstruction of child-friendly public spaces in Beirut following the port blast on the 4th August 2020. This process has put the handbook into practice as these child-friendly spaces are co-designed with children. At the WUF11, CatalyticAction will also present few completed projects in Lebanon where refugee and host children co-designed and built together new public spaces, breaking socio-spatial segregation. These projects will be used as practical examples to illustrate the main insights from the DeCID Handbook.

More information on the handbook project:

Information on CatalyticAction’s work:


The DeCID Handbook aims to raise the number and quality of built interventions that have been co-designed with children affected by displacement in the urban context: ultimately advancing their wellbeing. It provides practical insights regarding interventions that put children’s wellbeing first, and at the intersection of participatory design, forced displacement, and the urban context.

The WUF11 is the perfect platform for disseminating this handbook, hence advancing the key objective of the project. The handbook is aimed at everyone involved or interested in any aspect of co-designing built interventions with children affected by displacement. It has been written for NGOs and other humanitarian organisations, local governments, built environment professionals, those working with children, and members of all communities affected by displacement.

By presenting at the WUF11, the DeCID team will also have the opportunity to discuss the contents of the handbook with practitioners from different contexts. This would offer an opportunity to explore additional ways through which children’s participation in the co-design of built environment interventions affects the well-being of children and their communities in a diversity of urban contexts.

Session speakers

Ms. Joana Dabaj
Principal Coordinator
Mr. Riccardo Conti
Mr. Dyfed Aubrey
Inter-Regional Advisor
Dr Barbara Lipietz
Associate Professor
Development Planning Unit, University College London