Over the last decades, the world has witnessed a rise in displacement caused by conflicts, natural or human-made disasters, and the effects of climate change, which have resulted in an escalation of the Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) crisis globally. Disproportionately large percentages of refugees, IDPs and migrants are hosted by some of the most resource-scarce, and poorest countries in the world - 40 per cent of whom live in temporarily planned humanitarian “camps” for increasingly protracted periods. 60 per cent enter urban areas and cities, where they face numerous challenges which include but are not limited to hostility, tensions and conflicts with host communities.

This programme aims to utilise Urban and Spatial Planning as a tool by which to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development activities. UN-Habitat headquarters, regional and country offices, and several partners deploy a wide range of planning projects and tools in different countries to bring together diverse solutions to address the commitments within the Global Compact on Refugees, Global Compact for Migration, Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, which include exploring “Alternatives to Camps”, supporting the paradigm shift towards the integration of refugee and host communities in combined programming, and development of sustainable and long-term solutions as part of multi-actor and comprehensive responses to “Leave No One Behind”, ensuring the most vulnerable populations are promoted and protected.

Programme Impact

Several of our programs have contributed to the following impacts:

  • Technical advisory towards urban planning, development, and management frameworks through an urban expertise, and in alignment with local contextual frameworks;
  • Synthesizing data and identifying gaps to recommend the provision of services and infrastructure, land and tenure management, and economic development and investments, with humanitarian and development partners;
  • Developing institutional capacity of local and national governments and other stakeholders on planning, management and inclusive development for hosts and refugees;
  • Mitigating tensions between host and refugee communities through implementation of community infrastructure, promoting the inclusion of vulnerable populations and disadvantaged groups through participatory and integrative planning and decision making processes;
  • Supporting the integration of camps or settlements into urban areas in accordance with contextual legal frameworks;
  • Establishing a portfolio of lessons learnt and best practices through normative projects, including advisory tools and resources;
  • Collaborating with partners globally to strengthen humanitarian-development programming, answering to the paradigm shift from traditional humanitarian response towards sustainable and long-term impacts.

News and Stories

I commend the planning process and would like to stress the need for partners to scale-up efforts to address development challenges. Spatial planning is an important tool which has been embraced by the County Government to guide investments in the region, and we should enhance partnerships to strengthen the county’s spatial planning function

H.E. Hon. Josephat K. Nanok, Government of Turkana, County, Kenya

Ongoing support to spatial planning guidelines for extensions and corridors which impacted 71 government officials, 113 community members (2019-2020), and will impact more than
people directly.
Development of an Advisory Spatial Development Plan for Kalobeyei Settlement to host up to
host and refugees directly (since 2017 till now)
Spatial Profiling of Kutupalong Mega Camp, (Bangladesh) Nakivale Camp (Uganda), Kebribeyah Camp (Ethiopia), Kakuma and Dadaab Camps (Kenya) impacting more than
refugees indirectly (since 2018).

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

By ensuring our response is in line with global protection frameworks, and upholding an area-based, community-led and human rights focused approach, the Humanitarian-Development programs engage with community members via the formulation of consultative groups through an integrated planning processes. This allows the programs to bridge the gap for social inclusion and promote cohesion, helping both hosts and refugees voice their needs and concerns and guide targeted responses. 

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Different genders use and experience human settlements in a variety of ways. The practice embeds this understanding in all our work and thus voices of women and girls are underpinned in all Humanitarian-Development programs. Meaningful and equal participation of women and girls is mainstreamed to support all genders to be empowered and to be heard throughout project processes. 

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All the Humanitarian-Development programs place a value in upholding every community voice, including youth, children and the elderly women and girls, men and boys. Youth are an asset for maximizing opportunities and as catalysts for greater change. Support and resources are provided to improve occupational skills leading to increased employment, and to be integrated within planning processes. All programs also ensure that older persons are involved within participatory processes and engaged throughout the project cycle.

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Being inclusive is a key component of the Humanitarian-Development Practice programs. It aims to transform unequal relations to promote shared power and opportunities, providing integrative and inclusionary processes that accommodate disabled persons, including targeting measured disparities specifically directed towards them.

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Donors and partners

The success of the Humanitarian-Development Practice is dependent on successful partnerships, beginning with local and national governments and the communities they serve. Through the programs, UN-Habitat ensures their inclusion and ownership from the beginning, to mobilise and ensure the capacity for sustainable and long-term solutions with regards to addressing humanitarian response or host and refugee needs. Through building a strong collaboration framework, UN-Habitat engages with local beneficiaries, stakeholders, academics and communities to take evidence-based, localised action towards bridging the gap to strengthen the humanitarian-development and peacebuilding nexus. At both the local and global levels, UN-Habitat engages with other UN agencies and international organizations to address the paradigm shift from traditional refugee and humanitarian response, tapping into local economic development, investment opportunities and new partnerships with non-traditional partners, such as investment banks and private sector organizations.