Today, half of the world’s population lives in cities which is projected rise up to 60 percent by 2030. At the same time, a growing number of conflicts and disasters affect urban settings, with cities becoming increasingly vulnerable towards effects of extreme weather events, earthquakes and epidemics.
When taking a closer look at the current process of urbanization, it becomes apparent that over the past forty years, the urban population in lower income and fragile countries has increased by 326 percent1.
In such a context, it is not surprising that coming crises have a high probability of taking place in urban settings. This means that humanitarian actors will be increasingly working in urban contexts which could be prone to violence and disasters. In such contexts, public authorities often have difficulty delivering basic services, security and welfare.
When operating in an urban setting, humanitarian programming must take the environmental dimension into account:
In densely populated areas, environmental disasters such as heavy rains and floods will tend to affect a far higher number of people
Poor infrastructure will tend to reenforce effects of natural disasters, such as floods after heavy rains in case of non-existing or poor drainage systems
Epidemics will spread much faster
Urban population depend to a very higher degree of functioning supply and demand schemes for food and non-food items (NFIs)
If these are disrupted the lack of access to alternative means of food production might lead quickly to food insecurity
Urban settings do not always have a large amount of natural resources that could be exploited by affected populations
UN Environment: Quick guides on how humanitarian action can minimize environmental impacts
The 'Quick guides' contain key guidance on environmental issues relevant to six sectors of Food Security and Agriculture Sector, Basic Needs Sector, Health Sector, Education Sector, Protection Sector and Livelihood Sector of humanitarian response to population displacement. They underscore the opportunities to minimize negative environmental impacts during humanitarian action.
Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh: experts assess environmental impacts of Rohingya influx
Mission report by the Ministry of Environment and Forest of Bangladesh on the environmental impacts of the refugee influx in Bangladesh.
Environment Marker Sector Guidance
This guidance accompanies the Environment Marker, and aims at giving specific guidance on mitigation measures for activities in “B”-coded projects (medium environmental impact). It provides additional sector-specific guidance, using the example of Sudan.
ACAPS – Rapid Humanitarian Assessment in Urban Settings; Technical Brief
A technical brief by ACAPS on improving coordinated needs assessments to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian response in urban areas.