Teaming up to address disaster relief at the World Urban Forum

Habitat houses in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will jointly participate in the next edition of the World Urban Forum in Naples through the organisation of one of the events. This collaboration is related to the co-organization, in partnership with others agencies such as the UNDP and the UNECE, of several regional Housing Forums around the world (Pacific, Americas, and Europe & Central Asia) during the last 4 years.

The focus of the WUF event will be “Reduce risk and vulnerabilities in providing equitable reconstruction solutions after urban disasters”.

Preparation and Response are Key

The increasing debate on urban reconstruction and risk highlights the importance of improving the understanding within humanitarian organisations of preparing for and responding to urban disasters. This evolving issue has prompted some encouraging developments, such as the use of creative approaches to post-disaster housing through direct cash transfers and host families’ support, the use of mobile technology to spread life-saving messages, and new research and practice on clarifying land issues after disasters through participatory methods (participatory enumeration of neighbourhoods and community planning). However, many international organisations are finding housing solutions in cities to be extremely complex.

Many Challenges Persist

Humanitarian and development workers are facing unprecedented challenges in urban areas like Port-au-Prince, in Rio’s landslide-vulnerable favelas, and in Asian cities like Padang, Indonesia. Regulatory barriers that undermine equitable reconstruction are seldom addressed. Housing vulnerabilities are replicated as a result of the lack of technical support and/or financial means. The root causes of risks remain unchanged. Recurrent problems such as the loss of lives and expertise, the disruption of supply chains, the dearth of equitable solutions for both renters and owners, and the political and legal constraints on land and tenure are among the many issues to consider when confronting the aftermath of urban disasters.

Working Together to Find a Solution

Through dialogue, debate, and the presentation of promising practices, the joint HFHI-IFRC session will explore viable options and solutions for urban disaster response, including the following:

  • lessons learned by the Haiti property law working group in building and reaching consensus among public, private, and civil society partners to establish effective land transaction tools and processes
  • how to influence policies to promote equitable reconstruction when administrative bodies are weak or disempowered
  • how to address an array of land and building contexts
  • how to develop building codes and regulations that are geared toward incremental construction over time rather than rapid reconstruction at scale

We hope to meet you at WUF Naples 2012. Please visit



  1. Far Sight says:

    I’m amazed that I missed this great post the first time round. Congratulations on the ideas and perspective.

Speak Your Mind