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27th ALNAP Meeting

The Urban Challenge: Adapting humanitarian response to a changing world

17-19 January 2012

Green Park Hotel, Chennai, India

Between 17 and 19 January, 130 delegates from Academic institutions, Donor agencies, National Disaster Management Agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and the United Nations met in Chennai, India, to discuss the humanitarian response to rapid urbanisation, and to identify ways in which the humanitarian system could learn from recent events in places such as in Port au Prince, Manila, and eastern Japan.

Delegates were welcomed by Dr Muzzafer Ahmad, a member of India’s National Disaster Management Authority, and heard keynote addresses from Robert Piper, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal, and from Dan Lewis, Chief of UN Habitat’s Disaster and Post Conflict section. The two day programme that followed included a variety of small group and plenary discussions, a scenario session, and a series of expert presentations on topics related to preparedness, response, early recovery, evaluation and accountability in urban contexts.

In the concluding plenary, delegates underscored the importance of adapting existing humanitarian thinking to address the challenges of working in urban areas, and:

  • Called on all parts of the humanitarian system to devote resources to ‘urban disaster’ issues, and on donors, particularly, to be prepared to support innovative approaches;
  • Advocated for increased research and lesson-learning around successful approaches to urban disaster response, and for these lessons to be incorporated into planning, standards, tools and capacity building activities;
  • Stressed the need for clarity on organisational roles and responsibilities for urban humanitarian issues within governments and the international humanitarian system;
  • Committed to building more inclusive coordination mechanisms, with greater engagement of municipal authorities and civil society organisations
  • Recognised the importance of rethinking the boundaries between ‘humanitarian’ and ‘development’ action as an essential precondition for effective humanitarian work in urban environments.

A full report of the meeting will be available soon.

We would like to express our thanks to the ALNAP members who hosted the meeting: World Vision India, AIDMI and Seeds India.

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