New research funded on protecting the vulnerable in urban humanitarian crises

News, 23 June 2016
Seven research projects will receive funding to study how to assist vulnerable urban groups facing humanitarian crises, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has announced.

Clearing up after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Women and children, the elderly and people living in informal settlements may be especially vulnerable in an urban crisis (Photo: anjetika, Creative Commons via Flickr)

IIED has announced that seven research projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have received funding for work to improve our understanding of how best to protect vulnerable people in urban crisis situations.

Funding for the research projects is provided by the Urban Crises Learning Fund, a three-year project that aims to build an in-depth understanding of how the humanitarian sector can most effectively operate in urban contexts and work with urban actors. 

IIED is partnering with the International Rescue Committee on this DFID-funded initiative.

Protection through research

Urban Crises' second call for proposals opened in February 2016. It sought research that will contribute to an improved understanding of how protection can help to meet the needs of vulnerable groups arising in urban humanitarian crises and responses. 

Populations who may be rendered particularly vulnerable in an urban crisis include women, children and the elderly, recent migrants, and those living in informal settlements. Large refugee influxes to urban areas also generate a complex array of protection challenges. 

IIED received almost 150 proposals, which could come from any region and seek to research any type of urban crisis. 

The successful projects

Following a selection process, seven projects are now funded and under way: 

  • In Nigeria, Bayero University and the Lovatt Foundation will lead research on fostering Protection of Displaced Persons in Urban Areas of Northern Nigeria, with a focus on women and girls
  • In Somalia, the Somali Disaster Resilience Institute (SDRI) will focus on how to protect Internally Displaced Communities in Mogadishu, growing the evidence base for improved humanitarian protection in resilience programming
  • In Mali, Terre des Hommes Mali will lead research on promoting the protection of children on the move in urban contexts, through including and strengthening locally-developed child protection practices in the humanitarian response 
  • In Egypt, the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo will investigate 'closed file' refugees in Cairo and the protection challenges they face 
  • In Haiti, Oxfam Haiti, Haiti State University and FOKAL will lead research into manifestations of non-state forms of protection in a context of urban humanitarian crisis response 
  • In Gaza, the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) will lead an examination of the relationships between gender-based violence and occupation violence, and
  • In India, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) will look at the implications of humanitarian responses in the long term, focusing on the city of Chennai.

Huge response

Diane Archer, of IIED's Human Settlements research group, said: "We received 148 submissions, focusing on protection issues in a range of crises spanning from natural disasters to protracted displacement. We look forward to working with the research teams over the coming months and seeing the results of their research."

The proposals were assessed for relevance, quality, and methodological approach. The final selection also took care to ensure a spread of research topics, locations, and research collaborations. 

Two further calls for proposals will be issued under the Urban Crises Learning Fund, in late June and September 2016.


Diane Archer (, team leader, cities and climate change

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