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Responding to urban crises

Urbanisation presents a significant and urgent challenge for humanitarian actors. In recent decades, there has been a massive increase in the number of people living in cities and who are vulnerable to disasters or conflict. Urban disasters differ in important ways from rural disasters, and force the humanitarian community to rethink fundamental tools, approaches and assumptions when deciding how best to respond.

ALNAP's work on urban response in humanitarian crises includes research, the Urban Portal, webinars on urban issues, as well as hosting the Urban Community of Practice. 

Latest research

Learning from the Ebola Response in cities

May 2017

The Ebola outbreak in 2014-15 posed a number of urban-specific challenges to humanitarians responding to the crisis. These three reports bring together the lessons learnt from the response in West Africa, with each paper focusing on a topic: quarantine, population movement, and engaging with communities.




Population movement 

Communication and community engagement

Stepping back: understanding cities and their systems

October 2016

ALNAP's latest urban paper looks at the different systems and stakeholders in which exist in urban areas, and outlines what is important for humanitarians to know when responding in complex urban environment.
It argues the importance of stepping back as a first step towards changing policy and practice.



English version

Spanish translation 

Arabic translation

ALNAP's 27th Annual Meeting on Urban humanitarian response

The urban challenge in humanitarian aid on Prezi

At ALNAP’s 27th Annual Meeting ‘Meeting the Urban Challenge: Adapting humanitarian efforts to an urban world’ there was general agreement that the international humanitarian sector is currently inadequately prepared to address both the scale and nature of the urban challenge. ALNAP’s continuing work on urban response is an effort to:

  • raise awareness across the sector of the specific challenges of humanitarian response in urban environments
  • provide a forum for ALNAP members to share their experiences of adapting strategies, policies and procedures on the basis of best practice in urban response
  • support ALNAP members to increase their levels of knowledge and skills relevant to urban response 


Latest ALNAP urban response webinars 



Previous Urban response webinars

To catch up on ALNAP's work on urban humanitarian response, watch our previous webinars by clicking on the + sign to the left.

Urban Community of Practice


Latest discussions from the Urban Response Community of Practice

11 August: Choosing and defining the areas we work in - looking for speakers for ALNAP's latest urban webinar

Dear Colleagues, We're looking for speakers for our next urban webinar. Take a look at the topic description below, and please get in touch if you've got an experience to share! The webinar is planned for 3rd week September - we will share details to register as a part...

7 August: Video & transcript for latest ALNAP urban webinar

Dear Colleagues, I'm pleased to share with you the recording and transcript of ALNAP's most recent urban webinar held last month, which explored several aspects of the West African Ebola response in cities to understand what learning could be taken forward into future ...

31 July: OPC Cali city-region: an observtory for measuring what peace is

I'm working on building a framework for measuring what peace is. It's includes a validation process. So our starting point is from "urban violence" this is a negative peace perspective. But data like this must be used for territorial prioritization. We e...

Go to the Urban Response Community of Practice




ALNAP resources on humanitarian response in urban crises

Dando un paso atrás: Entendiendo las ciudades y sus sistemas

Spanish translation of Stepping Back: Understanding cities and their systems

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