In this lecture, David Sanderson from the University of New South Wales presents ten key takeaways for humanitarian aid practitioners working in response to urban humanitarian crises.





Issues which the lecture addresses

Over the last decade, cities in low- and middle-income countries have experienced a sharp rise in the number and severity of crises, including conflict, naturally-triggered disasters, forced displacement and the effects of climate change.


Short analysis of the above issues

To keep up with the rise in these crises, humanitarian response, whose approaches and assumptions have been derived mostly from rural experiences, needs to ‘urbanise’ in order to meet these new challenges.

The lecture analyses good practices from across the world undertaken by a wide range of actors working in urban humanitarian response. The Content includes context (disasters, climate change, violence, conflict and displacement), themes and issues (such as corruption and coordination), project cycle management tools (from assessment to evaluation) and sectoral responses (such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and health).


Propositions for addressing the issue

This lecture presents ten takeaways for those working in response to urban humanitarian crises. Key takeaways include: capitalise on what cities have to offer; ensure you have the right skills, and be aware of what is achievable; develop and value relationships; be flexible (project management tools); take time to listen (ie do assessments); support locally-driven recovery; and, take the long view (build resilience). Each takeaway is illustrated by examples drawn from recent practice.



David has worked across the world in development and emergencies. He worked for four years in a disaster management consultancy, eight years for the NGO CARE International, and for eight years was Director of a UK university centre focusing on development and emergencies. Between 2013-14 David was a full-time Visiting Professor at Harvard University. In recent years David has led post-disaster reviews in Haiti, Pakistan, India, the Philippines and Nepal. David is editor of the 2016 IFRC World Disasters Report, and in 2019 completed a Good Practice Review in urban humanitarian response for the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI). In 2016 David moved to Australia to take up a new position as Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair at UNSW, Sydney, working on urban disaster recovery.



‘Good practice review in urban humanitarian response’: