25 August 2020 – After working closely together on coordinating infrastructure investments in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, UN-Habitat and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have since developed their Settlement Profiling Tool launched this week, to support field personnel in various displacement contexts with coordination and planning.

This week marks the third anniversary of the influx of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar into Cox’s Bazar district where over 860,000 remain in multiple camps.

In 2018, the two organizations began a process of settlement profiling to support a more coordinated approach to infrastructure investments and other key service facilities. The resulting Settlement Profiling Tool uses geo-spatial analysis, simple illustration and mapping out of information in government development policies, strategies and other humanitarian and development actor plans to help ensure wider access and understanding.

The user-friendly Tool guides local authorities and humanitarian-development professionals such as UN Agencies, donors and NGOs  through an iterative process of investigation with the aim of developing a common baseline of information. The project donor was UNHCR.

According to Yuka Terada who leads the Planning for Humanitarian and Development Practice in UN-Habitat, “this tool can be utilized to enhance the efficiency of humanitarian activities and bridge the gap towards development oriented progress”.

The Tool aims to enable stakeholders to prioritize investment opportunities and make informed decisions for refugee and hosts communities and provide entry points for more sustainable development trajectories.

The Settlement Profiles produced as a result of this Tool use an urban planning lens to provide a comprehensive overview of the relevant physical, social-economic and policy dynamics affecting a particular settlement, provide a selection of development scenarios and recommendations of potential ways forward.

This Tool has been piloted in Nakivale, Uganda and Kebribeyah, Ethiopia. Kebribeyah in particular has hosted refugees for over 28 years, is the oldest refugee settlement in the Somali Regional State and has a history of trade links between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. It presents unique opportunities to strengthen cohesion between refugees and host community and address ongoing challenges facing the settlement and region which include protracted instability of Somalia, rapid urbanization of the district and the poor living conditions and infrastructure in the refugee settlement.

The Mayor of Kebribeyah and his team are using the Settlement Profile to support further planning initiatives in the city, including the potential replanning of the refugee settlement area to allow for improved and more equitable water service provision, road access and housing upgrading. In Nakivale, the profile is being used to support the ongoing development of the district physical development plan.