Engaging local faith actors in urban response (Urban webinar #19)

28 Mar 2019
13:00 - 14:30, GMT

Urban areas are home to a diverse range of stakeholders, from civil society to first responder groups, academics and many levels of government. Local faith groups/leaders are one of several different urban stakeholders that humanitarians often fail to engage with effectively. Reflections on recent humanitarian crises, such as the Ebola response in West Africa, have highlighted the critical role local faith actors can play. In particular, when sharing information and changing mindsets and behaviours, both of which are incredibly difficult to do. Secular organisations often do not know how to engage with these local faith actors, and miss opportunities as a result.

In urban areas, diverse populations live side by side. Each neighbourhood may contain people from a range of different faith backgrounds, and faith groups may be just one sort of community people identify with. Faith groups, just like all forms of community, take a different form in urban areas than they do in rural. Even a single neighbourhood will likely contain many different faith actors, and faith communities are not always geographically bound. These dynamics pose challenges for humanitarians trying to understand which faith actors they should engage with and how to do so effectively.

This webinar, part of ALNAP’s ongoing webinar series on urban crises, is jointly organised with the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), a network of actors who do research on religion, humanitarianism and development. The webinar will bring together a panel of speakers from ALNAP and JLI Member organisations, to share experiences engaging local faith actors in urban response, and to answer questions from the audience.


Leah Campbell, Senior Research Officer, ALNAP

As a Senior Research Officer at ALNAP, Leah focuses on research on urban response, leadership, and coordination. She is currently leading research about responding effectively to the complexity of urban environments, and working alongside Paul Knox Clarke on new research about humanitarian decision-making. Leah facilitates ALNAP’s Urban Community of Practice and urban webinar series and also contributes to ALNAP’s lessons papers and State of the Humanitarian System work. Leah holds an M.A. from the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP).

Panellists include:

Nobuyuki Asai, Programme Coordinator, Soka Gakkai International

As a program coordinator with Soka Gakkai International, Nobuyuki is in charge of advocacy and networking in terms of humanitarian affairs. He joined Soka Gakkai’s recovery taskforce in Tohoku which was established after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. After the Kumamoto Earthquake in April 2016 he served in Soka Gakkai’s relief coordinating team. Nobuyuki participated in the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in 2015, “Asian Roundtable Dialogue for Faith Based organizations and Religious leaders in Humanitarian Action” held in Bangkok in 2015, and the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

Estella Carpi, Postdoctoral Associate, University College London

As a Research Associate in the Migration Research Unit at University College London, Estella is presently working in the framework of an ERC project on Southern-led humanitarian responses to displacement from Syria in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. She received her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sydney in Australia, researching humanitarian assistance provision and identity politics in Lebanon's emergency crises. After studying Arabic in Milan and Damascus (2002-2008), she worked in several research and academic institutions in Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, mostly focusing on the politics of aiding, welfare and forced migrations in the Arab Levant.

Silvia Correa, Faith and Development Manager, World Vision Mexico

Silvia is a faith and development specialist, manager and leader for international development programs and projects, with more than 20 years of experience spanning across the USA, México, Central and South America. She has designed projects, implemented child protection and spiritual nurturing methodologies models through interfaith networks with government, NGOs, community leaders and World Vision Staff. She has helped to strengthen church partnerships and faith networks to develop and implement projects, across Latin American Region countries in diverse sectors including: health, human rights, economic development, child and youth participation, child protection, sexual and gender based violence, migration, humanitarian aids, spiritual nurturing, advocacy and crisis intervention. 

Olivia Wilkinson, Director of Research, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities

As Director of Research at the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) in Washington DC, Olivia works at the intersection of sociology of religion and international humanitarian/development studies. She is a sociologist of humanitarianism and religion and has a PHD and Masters in humanitarian action from Trinity College Dublin and Université catholique de Louvain respectively, and a BA in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge.. Most recently she has been investigating the position of local faith actors in humanitarian and refugee response.