Translate with Google Translate

Urban webinar #7: Engaging communities in urban areas

Tuesday 15 April 2014

The audio of this webinar is also available below.

To download this file, click on the soundcloud logo above and then on the arrow under the track.

This webinar focused on engaging communities in urban response, with speakers from UN Habitat, Global Communities, and JIPS. Topics explored included lessons learned, accountability, and technologies used in urban contexts.  

Q&A Snapshot:

What does ‘community’ mean in an urban context?
JM: We generally work with geographically defined neighbourhoods, as a starting point we identify existing organisations and networks that could be mobilized.

What social structures do you find effective and legitimately representative?
JM: Often there are already strong community organisations in place: women’s groups, organised around savings & loans, youth sports clubs, trade groups.

What are the experiences of Global Communities and the KATYE project in identifying community leaders?
JL: In Port au Prince we thought we had identified community leaders, yet some community members felt misrepresented, and our chosen ‘sub-neighbourhoods’ were identified as incorrect, leading us to dramatically decentralise and democratise our approach.

What are your thoughts on communities in urban areas? What about marginalised individuals?
KJ: We need to broaden our focus and consider how people in urban areas, such as Diasporas and transnational communities are linked globally and to rural areas. We forget how big and spread out these communities are.

How do we ensure consistent feedback over time? How do organisations ensure they can be held accountable in urban areas?
KJ: This is the big question: accountability! There is not much done on evaluation/exit strategies/monitoring. How is this program going to end? What happens when a program runs out of resources? National staff are essential in understanding impact and strategies for engagement.

Are there any thoughts from UN Habitat’s work relating to feedback and accountability?
JM: Accountability is to the community first. Also, set up processes where the community is also accountable to itself. Feedback goes first to the community. Use community contracts where funding is given and community members for implementation.

What are the key things to remember to ensure engagement of urban populations?
JM: We have to work with and strengthen local institutions rather than sidelining them with parallel structures.

KM: We must understand existing networks and services provided by affected people themselves.

JL: We must acknowledge that urban contexts are fluid and fast changing, and need to accept uncertainty. Communities develop solutions on their own: harness these first. Engage the private sector: cities are full of these actors who will be there long after the humanitarian actor will have left.


Paul Knox Clarke

Head of Research and Communications


Jan Meeuwissen

Senior Manager

UN Habitat

Jerome Lebleu

Head of the Urban Response Technical Department

Global Communities

Karen Jacobsen

Coordinator/ Senior Advisor


  • Share this page:
  • Email
  • Print

Before you download this file, please answer two questions to help us monitor usage

1) What do you think you'll use this document for?

  • Other:

1) What is your email address?

2) What is the name of your organisation?

Please answer both questions above Submit

Starting your download...

Pilot version: You are downloading the pilot version of this guide; we welcome any feedback you have. Please email

Close this overlay