Examples of Urban Projects from Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies

The IFRC dedicated the World Disasters Report in 2010 to “Urban Risks”. Besides putting a spotlight on the rising vulnerabilities, the report highlighted that urban communities are capable of finding their own solutions, asserting their rights, and playing a full role in post-disaster recovery and risk reduction. In 2012, the IFRC Asia Pacific (AP) region completed a strategic direction study to explore the RCRC niche and services in urban settings in the Asia Pacific region. The Global Disaster Preparedness Center (GDPC) has conducted Urban Risk Dialogues and organized a series of workshops in 2013 – 2014. While highlighting existing challenges, these workshops set a vision for urban resilience for RCRC National Societies. The IFRC Urban DRR initiative in resulted Tehran Call for Action, adopted in May 2015 and a comprehensive guide for urban resilience[i]. The No Time for Doubt: Tackling Urban Risks publication profiled key urban initiatives in the Latin America region. As the eco-lead of the Shelter Cluster IFRC has been promoting equitable land and housing rights and leading area-based approaches in urban recovery efforts. ICRC has been working in urban conflict zones including Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine, Syria and Yemen for 30 years, maintaining essential infrastructure along with provision of humanitarian services. The annual knowledge exchange workshops that the IFRC Urban Collaboration Platform organizes aim to capture and share these experiences and learn from each other and external partners[ii].

The set of toolkits for Urban Community Resilience developed by the Global Disaster Preparedness Center of (GDPC) provides National Societies and their partners guidance for setting up and facilitating city coalitions and undertaking city wide risk assessments. The process leads to identification of a shared vision and resilience priorities for their cities, and organizing a co-design process to develop sustainable, feasible and viable solutions for the most pressing problems.In the Southern Africa region, the Climate Center was a key implementing partner in the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL), a trans-disciplinary group of researchers, local government officials and practitioners who focused on advancing actionable scientific knowledge to inform local government planning in six cities in Southern Africa. This initiative used a ‘city learning lab’ approach, similar to the coalition approach described above.

The IFRC, GDPC and the Climate Center also have a long-standing collaboration focused on tackling extreme heat, resulting in the landmark Heatwave Guide for Cities that was launched in 2019 on the sidelines of the UN High Level Political Forum together with thirty partners from all over the world, including USAID, who promoted the guide throughout their networks. A follow up City Heatwave Guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent Branches was released in 2020 to spur local action on extreme heat in support of municipal governments. Recently, partnering with the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN), GDPC and Climate Center launched a local research grant program to increase knowledge on heatwaves and their impact on people in vulnerable communities, particularly in low and middle-income countries.

The IFRC’s Alert Hub Initiative, with support from USAID/BHA, aims to  integrate the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to increase access to reliable and actionable emergency alerts for all types of hazards, including at sub-national levels. Additional approaches and tools focused on local action and citizen engagement developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent, in some cases with USAID/BHA funding,  include: the Coalition Building Toolkit, the Urban Action Kit, Y-Adapt and the Business Preparedness Toolkit. 

At the global level, the RCRC Movement takes pride in actively participating in global urban events such as Habitat 3 and World Urban Forums to represent and be the voice of most vulnerable urban communities drawing attention to the impacts of disasters and crises on sustainable development as well as to the tremendous untapped capacities and resources that these communities have including the 13 million Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers.  IFRC has also actively engaged in the multi stakeholder Global Alliance for Urban Crises (GAUC) and UNDRR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign, as a member of its Steering Committee.

Urban Empowerment and Resilience Project– Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

The Urban Resilience and Empowerment project aims to build Community and Stakeholders ownership for creating a sustainable governance structure in urban slums in Gazipura in Bangladesh. The main threats faced in the area are identifies by the community as lack of drainage, waste management and safe water, high drug usage, poverty and unemployment. The application of resilience radar methodology led the Bangladesh RC to focus on development of a city governance system consisting of cluster committees at the community level up to city corporation at the city level and a cost-sharing mechanism in their interventions. The achievements include improved waste management and sanitation awareness, improved knowledge about rights and entitlements and higher school attendance.

Urban Disaster Risk Reduction Project in China – Hong Kong Red Cross

Due to the rapid urbanization, different types of settlements such urban villages, old towns, shantytowns, village turned communities and rural-urban fringes has emerged in China. These towns shared common challenges such as low potential to mitigate disasters, low self-help capacity, highly dense living environment prone to security risks, inadequate infrastructure, ineffective urban governance systems. The project activities included building community clinics, warehouses, and provision of equipment, as well as trainings and community awareness activities. As a result, communities were able to manage the clinics and warehouses, felt stronger feelings of cohesiveness and connection. The challenges encountered during the project implementation are summarized as difficulties in mobilizing the community, building trust and coordination between different stakeholders.

Coalition Building for Urban Climate Resilience– Indonesia Red Cross and Vanuatu Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross Society

Indonesia Red Cross (PMI) piloted the Coalition Building in Cities Program in two very different cities. Semarang is a large city in Java that has already carried out some coalition and resilience-building work through the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Ternate is a small city located on a small island in North Maluku in eastern Indonesia where the project was a very new concept. PMI learned that although city size may make a difference in whether the project activities have city-wide reach and impact (due to project resources and funding), overall, the key factor for a successful coalition was the commitment of the coalition partners. The Vanuatu Red Cross (VRC) implemented similar approach in the city of Luganville. Working collaboratively with a wide range of partners and facilitating a coalition was a new experience for both PMI and VRC, involving a new and challenging methodology that led to strengthened relationships at city level, community-level action, and a renewed commitment to working together. The same model is being implemented in Mawlamyine city along the cost of Myanmar.

Community Mobilization in Urban Areas – Ivory Coast Red Cross

The emerging settlements around the capital city Abidjan have common characteristics, such as lack of proper electricity. water, sanitation and waste management, non-existent or adapted urban development plans. The project aimed at addressing the sanitation and flooding risks by contributing to the resilience of communities against the challenges identified. Activities focused on trainings, awareness campaigns, which allowed the formation of community volunteers as well as clubs in schools and simulation drills. The biggest challenges were demotivated volunteers and weak community participation and cohesion. Activities to overcome these included organization of football games, cooking, dancing, sketching and hygiene competitions in which different age/gender groups participated.

Safaru Community Inclusion Currency: Localized Credit Supporting the Most Vulnerable – Kenya Red Cross

Through Community Inclusion Currencies people have a way to exchange goods and services and incubate businesses, without relying on scarce national currency and volatile markets. The Kenya Red Cross Society supports and implements the Safaru network in Kenya which provides local credit to communities allowing small businesses to accept Safaru as payment for goods and services. As of March 2020, Safaru had a rapidly growing distribution network with 11k (mostly very small) businesses located in informal settlements in urban areas and in some of the poorest regions of the country. From the consumer side, any Kenyan can sign up to use Safaru and receive 100 Safaru credits to redeem at participating vendors. Additional Safaru is distributed on a weekly basis and as the number of users has grown, and the more credits circulate, the more resilient local economies t vulnerable households become

Urban Resilience Project and Youth Innovation– Kenya Red Cross

KRCS has been operating informal settlement in Nairobi since 2008 with the support of the Danish Red Cross. These settlements face multiple challenges such as congestion, illegal and undesignated dumping sites, water contamination and drainage blockages as well as the disposal of non-biodegradable debris.  The project aims to make urban communities in 7 informal settlements in Nairobi more resilient through community level activities including disaster risk reduction (DRR) and improving livelihoods.

The national society was able to engage the youth through hackathons, a form of innovation competition around three thematic areas: Environmental conservation and water use; Open and public space innovation; and Livelihood/business solutions for youth unemployment. The winning ideas include organo- briquette, a compressed block of combustible biomass material, creating safe, affordable, healthy and child-friendly play spaces for children and lactating mothers in market-place contexts.

Urban Resilience in Saida, Lebanon – Lebanese Red Cross

The Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) project aimed to build resilience of vulnerable people and communities through collaboration in the city of Saida. The project activities include the creation of safe spaces for children, improving the infrastructure of schools, firefighting and disaster awareness trainings and conducting school evacuation drills. It was highlighted that when communities are engaged early on, they are aware of their ability to achieve change which creates a sense of ownership of the program implemented. LRC is also implementing projects in the old city of Saida targeting the refugees in collaboration with Saida governmental authorities.

The activities include creating Community Emergency Response Teams, renovation of water supply points. One of the lessons learned is the importance of working with existing structures and creating space for communities to manage their internal challenges. It is also important to provide services in an integrated manner bringing together host and refugee communities to build social cohesion.

Challenges of Data Collection in the Urban Context – Mexican Red Cross

The Flood Resilience Program consisted of two phases from 2013-2018 and from 2018-2023 focusing on community flood resilience enhancement and improvement of resilience measurement in semi-urban communities. Currently there is no empirically verified measurement tool for disaster resilience and the Flood Resilience Measurement framework developed under the project aimed to enable assessing and demonstrating the impact of our interventions leading to increased social, political and financial investment in building flood resilience. The lessons learned include the importance of including decision-makers, local authorities and key stakeholders in the design phase, complementing the data collection process with VCA and repeatedly socializing the program to increase ownership of the community.

Urban Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience – Myanmar Red Cross Society

The project aimed to strengthen resilience and reduce the vulnerability in targeted communities in the cities of Yangon and Mandalay. The project activities included small-scale mitigation activities approved and included in the community plan of actions developed; conducting risk reduction awareness sessions and activities at community and school level; and continuing to develop the competency and capacities of the Red Cross township branches and its volunteers to manage DRR activities at the community level. The DRR activities/action plans developed by the community members based on multi-sectorial risk and needs assessment targeting the most vulnerable people in selected Wards. The city-wide risk assessment conducted by RC branch and other stakeholders completed under the Coastal Cities resilience project implemented in the city of Mawlamyine.

Strengthening Urban Resilience and Engagement (SURE) – Nepal Red Cross

The SURE (Strengthen Urban Resilience and Engagement) program is implement-ed by the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) in partnership with the British Red Cross (BRC) focused on multiple hazards, natural and man-made. The SURE program has supported seven municipalities across three of Nepal’s major urban centers over a 5-year period (2016-2021), to improve the urban disaster resilience of municipal governments, the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and citizens, including specific vulnerable groups, across the seven targeted municipalities. Heavily emphasizing participatory led approaches to engage urban populations, the program uses citizen voices, targeting most vulnerable groups and fosters ‘champions’ to create bottom-up demand to local governments for improved disaster resilience. The SURE program has directly reached 973,000 people thus far, and generated 1080 champions (739 female), trained in UDRR, and in disseminating messages in the local community, and with strong involvement in municipal and ward level planning activities, in addition to 7,178 students and teachers engaged in the urban DRR safer school package. SURE moves away from geospatially-defined program interventions and uses a network-based approach. SURE also works with the ‘missing middle’ or local government (municipalities) to provide technical disaster management support and create linkages between government and ‘hard to reach’ and vulnerable populations who are most affected by disasters.

Municipal Disaster Risk Governance Assessment Tool –  Nepal Red Cross

Contributing the IFRC’s global expertise on disaster law as well as Nepal Red Cross (NRC)’ community presence across the country, our team partnered with the Nepal government to assess and understand what municipalities needed in order to design and implement a cohesive DRM policy in line with national legislative obligations. Initial dialogue with municipal authorities, CBDRM partners and communities, made it evident that municipalities’ varying capacities, resources, and challenges needed thorough analysis to ensure that each would be able to meet its new responsibilities. In consultation with stakeholders including Alliance partners Mercy Corps and Practical Action, NRC decided to adapt and contextualize the IFRC’S disaster law tools for use at the municipal level. The adapted version was named the Municipal Disaster Risk Governance Assessment Tool.

Damascus Water Emergency Response Project – Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) has developed the Damascus Water Cut and Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in response to the dire water situation in Damascus in December 2016 when 4.5 to 5 million people in Damascus and its surroundings lost their water sources for 40 days. The SARC working closely with the city authorities and the affected communities developed a contingency plan and started immediate rehabilitation of main water sources and main tunnels and pipelines once the area is safely accessible. The experience demonstrated the importance of having a contingency plan, skills and availability of community members and the communication of all steps of the plan with relevant stakeholders including community members and authorities to ensure funding, technical support and proper implementation.

Urban Community Centers for Refugees and Host communities – Turkish Red Crescent Society

The Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS) Community Centers have been providing services to help migrants live with dignity and in harmony with host communities. The activities carried out by the Community Centers also cater specifically to children, who are among the most vulnerable, and who are key in facilitating social cohesion and development among communities. These efforts aim at reducing vulnerabilities through understanding their needs and taking necessary actions and strengthening their individual and social well-being. As one of these efforts, the Kızılay Community Centre in the city of Şanlıurfa, brought refugee children with hearing impairments together with students at the School for Impaired Children in a four-week social cohesion workshop.

 

Pioneering Urban Anticipatory Action for Heatwaves: Vietnam Red Cross

Vietnam Red Cross a forerunner in Community-based Disaster Risk Assessments (CBDRA) and Management (CBDRM) in urban areas, linking ward-level CBDRM reports to urban planning processes, such as Climate Action Plan, Urban Master Plans and Socio-economic Development Plans. In addition, in recent years VNRC has become widely recognized as the first National Society to develop an Early Action Protocol for Heatwaves in urban areas. VNRC’s efforts began in 2018 supported by the German Red Cross “FbF Ready” project in Hanoi, where the average daily temperatures have risen in recent years; past heatwaves have led to a 20.0% increase in hospital admissions for all causes and 45.9% for respiratory diseases. VNRC applied a suite of tools to map urban stakeholders, identify heat vulnerability and exposure in urban areas, and worked closely with the Hydro-Met agency Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change (IMHEN) to set triggers for early action, while training volunteers in unique urban heatwave Standard Operating Procedures. VNRCs successful efforts have been scaled up in multiple cities, reflected in its approved 2021 Early Action Protocol.

  

Endnotes:

[i] IFRC (2017) Building urban resilience: A guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent engagement and contribution.

[ii] More information on the RCRC urban projects can be found in the UCP workshop reports: https://www.preparecenter.org/activities/red-cross-red-crescent-urban-collaboration-platform

 


[i] IFRC (2017) Building urban resilience: A guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent engagement and contribution.

[ii] More information on the RCRC urban projects can be found in the UCP workshop reports: https://www.preparecenter.org/activities/red-cross-red-crescent-urban-collaboration-platform

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