Choosing and defining urban areas for humanitarian response (Urban webinar #17)

19 October 2017
14:00 - 16:00, GMT +1

Within a city, how can humanitarians decide which specific area they will work in? And how can the boundaries of that area be defined? 

Discussions about ‘area-based’, ‘neighbourhood’, ‘settlements’ or ‘integrated’ approaches are now a standard part of the discussion on how to improve urban humanitarian response.* Due to the nature and scale of an urban crisis, humanitarians are likely to need to find a way to focus their analysis, assessments and/or response – and often, that way is geographically. This represents a challenge because urban communities are often non-geographic, interconnected with the rest of the urban context, and their needs do not necessarily fit into one defined area. 

Whichever approach an organisation decides to take, at one point or another they are likely to focus their analysis or programming on a specific area within the wider urban environment. 

This special two hour ALNAP webinar will unpacked two related challenges they may face when doing so: 

1) Choosing an area 
In the first hour, CRS and UN Habitat discussed how humanitarians can choose a defined geographic area/neighbourhood to work in, within an urban environment. Whether to undertake analysis or plan a response, how do we avoid choosing an area out of convenience, rather than based on need or appropriateness? 

2) Defining boundaries 
In the second hour we heard from Impact Initiatives and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap. They discussed how, in situations where perceptions of neighbourhood boundaries do not always match up with official administrative units, and neighbourhoods are parallel to one another, we can appropriately articulate what is inside or outside of our assessment or programming area and why.

This webinar did not focus on the merits of area-based and similar approaches, as this topic has already been explored in a previous urban webinar and is ongoing in various other fora.