Last Monday, one month after the first session, The Spindle and the International Civil Society Centre’s Scanning the Horizon initiative held the second webinar of the miniseries on ‘Urban Futures and Resilience’. This miniseries aims at exploring the challenges and opportunities of rapid urban growth and its implications for the (future) work of international civil society organisations (ICSOs).
The webinar saw the contribution of two NGO professionals in the field: Aline Rahbany, Urban Programming Advisor at World Vision International (WVI), and Peter Gijs van Enk, a thematic expert on urban resilience at Cordaid. For their presentation, respectively see link 1 and 2.
VWI’s Citywide Self-Sustaining model in responses to challenges in cities
In her intervention, Aline shared the lessons learnt during WVI’s “urban journey” and the pillars of the resulting urban approach. Next to identifying specific factors of exclusion in urban areas, the preparatory research conducted by WVI highlighted the elements that make NGOs’ work in cities even more challenging. Among others, Aline mentioned the invisibility of certain groups in growing and ever informal cities, as well as the unavailability of disaggregated data about the target groups.
On the basis of these results and subsequent pilots, WVI developed the Citywide Self-Sustaining model. The latter stresses the need of working on multiple layers, focusing on contextual issues and leveraging existing assets and resources at city level. In particular, partnering with different local, urban stakeholders and organisations is considered as crucial for impact, sustainability and scale.
Working together towards a resilient city: Cordaid’s integrated approach
Interestingly, the urban resilience framework developed by Cordaid significantly overlaps with WVI’s Citywide model. Indeed, Cordaid’s urban resilience framework also consists of different layers and highlights the need for a multi-level, integrated approach. Moreover, Cordaid’s approach also revolves around local ownership and engagement. This process features five steps, which at least partially correspond with WVI’s approach:
- participatory urban risks appraisal;
- linking all stakeholders around a common agenda and developing a community action plan, for instance with serious gaming;
- strengthening collaboration and resource mobilisation;
- adaptation and replication by (city) government.
However, this process is characterized by a number of challenges. First of all, trust-building, which is a crucial element in integrated urban resilience processes, takes time. Secondly, as highlighted by WVI too, every (urban) context is different. What is more, the differences are not only among cities, but also among neighbourhoods within the same city. Finally, funding is hard to secure, especially as financiers often demand quick and concrete results. Taking into account the process steps and the related challenges, Cordaid identified some success factors for urban resilience programmes. Those are time and funding, decentralised budgets (given the localized nature of urban resilience) and capacitated staff, able to manage the processes and engage communities. All of these are valuable lessons that all ICSOs should take into account when intervening in urban(sizing) contexts.
Missed out on this webinar?
Don’t worry, you can watch it back here! Interested to further explore the trend of urbanisation and its significance for the work of NGOs? Join us in the Future Sessions of August 27 (Paula Nagler, IHS), September 25 (Metabolic, TBC) and October 29 (Cordaid & AMS Institute, TBC). Information about the latter two sessions will follow as soon as possible!