The Red Cross and Red Crescent have always been at the forefront of disaster preparedness and response in cities, but rapid urbanization is creating serious challenges for development and humanitarian organisations. This guide – one of the outcomes of the Partnership on Urban Risk Reduction and Management between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran – was developed to respond to the increasing needs of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in urban disaster risk reduction and management, and in building community resilience in cities.

The guide is not an operational manual, but is an analytical and strategic approach to urban resilience that explains the root causes of urban risks and their humanitarian consequences. It analyses the urban context and concepts of community, hazards, risks and resilience in cities and their link with the wider urban development agenda, and it proposes ways in which the Red Cross and Red Crescent can engage effectively in urban risk reduction and management and resilience-building. It connects the urban humanitarian context with the global urban resilience agenda. The content of the guide is aligned with the findings of many city-level projects that were implemented during the partnership.

Community focus

The guide is written first for the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, but will also help other community-based organizations to plan and implement resilience-building actions in cities. UN agencies and inter-governmental organisations can benefit from this guide to better understand the social and community dimensions of urban disaster risk reduction and resilience, and the views and approach of community-based organizations in this area.

Jagan Chapagain, Under Secretary General, Programmes and Operations, IFRC said the report was the result of extensive collaborations across the Movement. “The outcomes of the Partnership including the Guide are the results of extensive joint works with the participation and support of many National Societies and IFRC regional offices as well as IFRC partners from 2013 to 2016,” he said. “Urban risk is one of the key global challenges with severe humanitarian impacts. I hope the outcomes of the partnership and this Guide can contribute to the plans and programmes of National Societies to build and enhance resilience and better respond to humanitarian needs in cities and urban areas.
“On behalf of the IFRC and the National Societies who engaged in this partnership, I sincerely thank the Iranian Red Crescent Society for their important and sincere cooperation in this area.”

Mohammad Sh. Mohammadi Araghi, Under Secretary General, International Affairs and IHL at the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran said: “As National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies we should enhance our capacities and be better prepared for resilience building and responding to humanitarian crises in cities and urban areas. The Iranian Red Crescent is proud of its partnership with the IFRC in this important priority area and of the results achieved so far. The outcome report of this partnership which is being released now is a testimony for the significance of urban resilience and the achievements of this partnership. On behalf of the Iranian Red Crescent, I sincerely thank the IFRC Secretariat for the full support provided and all other National Societies who participated in this partnership and contributed to achieving its objectives.”

Necessary response

Mostafa Mohaghegh, Partnership Manager, Urban Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, IFRC said the guide was a necessary response to increasingly urban populations. “We have always been in forefront of humanitarian action in cities, but the increasing complexity of urban context requires innovative and more effective ways to respond to humanitarian needs,” he said. “The Partnership on Urban Disaster Risk Reduction and Management has been an extensive IFRC collective effort to help its member National Societies better understand and analyse urban risks and improve their planning and programming for urban resilience building and risk reduction. Within the framework of this Partnership, over 80 National Societies participated at the regional meetings and consultations and 5 city level projects were implemented in Jakarta, La Paz, Nairobi, Tehran and Yerevan in collaboration with their respective National Societies. We are indeed in the beginning of a long journey to build urban resilience against disasters, but the outcomes of this Partnership and release of its final report may serve the National Societies and IFRC partners to better consider and position urban communities and most vulnerable people in this journey.”