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Improving Humanitarian Shelter Coordination and Response in Cities: A snapshot of current trends, challenges, and good practices

Sahdia Khan



Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 4
Global Shelter Cluster
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 144


The drivers of urbanisation are complex and people live in cities for different reasons. There are now more than 80 million people displaced who were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods due to conflict and natural hazards, further exacerbated by climate change. Many are accommodated in urban areas. While some cities are struggling to host ever-increasing numbers of displaced, humanitarian actors need to adapt their way of working if they want to support uprooted families to rebuild their lives and homes in cities. Humanitarian actors need to understand, engage with and support complex urban systems where governance, tenure issues, housing markets, basic service provision and disaster risk coalesce. Working within complex urban dynamics means that humanitarian actors cannot act alone. They need to collaborate with local authorities, civil society and the private sector to address the needs of displaced persons to find the right methods of support, which can vary greatly from city to city and within cities. A consultation commissioned by the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement notes that a significant portion of displaced persons moves to and will remain in urban areas. One of the key recommendations is that international actors need new ways of thinking about urban internal displacement. The shift in thinking points towards the need for tailored approaches and tools for working on urban displacement. Within this context, humanitarian shelter partners strive to adapt their approaches to better assist populations in need. In this session the Global Shelter Cluster will host a panel to discuss emerging trends of displacement in urban areas with a specific angle of enabling greater access to shelter for the displaced population. The panellists will further explore the challenges and opportunities in regard to providing humanitarian assistance in cities in an equitable manner. The discussions will build on collected good practices in terms of engaging with the local authorities, the local markets, the civil society and the private sector to deliver adequate assistance. It will also draw on good practices with regard to strengthening existing systems of multi-level governance, urban land administration, service delivery and markets. The panel will also discuss the need for and ways of collecting data and mapping settlement dynamics, the patterns of movements of displaced persons and the informal settlements in which they often reside to access affordable housing options. This discussion will contribute to the development of the new Shelter Cluster Strategy with the aim to better reflect the complex urban contexts of displacement, knowledge gaps and help to broaden options for adequate response in urban contexts. In cities, shelter responses can only be successful if humanitarian actors dare to engage with the complexity of urban systems and the full range of local stakeholders - there is truly no way around it.


This Global Shelter Cluster event aims to bring together different stakeholders who are providing humanitarian shelter assistance in urban areas to reflect on: *What are the key challenges for providing assistance in cities *How humanitarian responses are being adapted to urban contexts *How to identify successes and promising approaches *What can be done to scale up successful approaches and mainstream new practice and ideas into our work Furthermore, the session will provide a space to reflect on the kind of non-traditional partnerships (e.g. with the private sector) the shelter actors need to foster to engage with complex urban systems for delivering assistance and enabling access to services. The session will also provide insight on how to better engage with municipal authorities who are often at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced or affected population residing on their territory. This event will seek to: *Disseminate the work of the Global Shelter Cluster; *Share experiences of different stakeholders to learn, inspire and challenge others to adapt their response for an equitable humanitarian response in cities; *Contribute to the recommendations made by the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement on the need for a new way of thinking and understanding urban displacement. Lastly, this event will help gather information and critical insights to shape and inform the new Global Shelter Cluster strategy.

Session speakers

Ms. Stephanie Loose
Chief Technical Advisor Burkina Faso
Ms. Ela Serdaroglu
Global Shelter Cluster Co-lead
Ms. Lilia Blades Martinez
Shelter Coordination Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean
Global Shelter Cluster - Canadian Red Cross
Mr Kassem Chaalan
Disaster Risk Reduction Unit Manager
Lebanese Red Cross
Ms. Diana Carolina Cordero-Scales
Shelter and Settlements Unit lead
International Organization for Migration