Nairobi, 30 November 2021 -- UN-Habitat has partnered with CatalyticAction, University College London’s Development Planning Unit and UNICEF to create a handbook for practitioners working with displaced communities in the built environment.

The Designing with Children In Displacement (DeCID) handbook highlights how methods of co-design can enhance social infrastructures built for displaced communities. With the number of forced displaced people at a record level - 40 per cent of whom are children - social infrastructures such as schools and playgrounds are vital for healthy development.

By adopting a participatory approach, the impact of infrastructures can go one step further in meeting the needs of displaced communities. The DeCID handbook enables this by providing practical tools and resources around the concept of co-design, a method which allows children to fully participate in the design and implementation of built projects initiated to support them.

“Co-designing public space served as an excellent entry point to building relationships and trust between refugee and host communities in Lebanon. The DeCID handbook provides a great opportunity to mainstream this practice among children and youth in displacement affected communities worldwide,” said Dyfed Aubrey, UN-Habitat’s inter-regional advisor.

The handbook addresses the key concepts needed to understand the value of co-design as well as providing a hands-on section with activities, tools and examples of how participatory design can be easily incorporated into built projects.

The guide is particularly useful for UN-Habitat affiliates, including NGOs and other humanitarian organisations, as well as local governments, built environment professionals and those working with children in the urban context. It builds on and incorporates key approaches and tools developed by UN-Habitat including:

  • Her City toolkit - a guide for sustainable and Inclusive Urban Planning and Design with girls.
  • Block By Block - a minecraft tool used by UN-Habitat to engage disenfranchised communities in the design of their public spaces.
  • UN-Habitat’s Settlement Profiling Tool which enables stakeholders to conduct context-specific assessments prior to action - a key recommendation of this handbook.

The DeCID handbook is available to download in English, Spanish and Arabic and can also be browsed through an interactive website.