favela da rocinha panorama, rio de janeiro. Photo by SEIER+SEIER.

A Human Centered Approach to Building Resilience in Informal Urban Settlements

This was first published by The Rockefeller Foundation and is cross-posted here in support of the exciting work the challenge winners hope to do to build urban resilience.

Nairobi’s Mathare slum. Photo credit: Meena Kadri

For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities—a figure that is expected to reach 65 percent by 2045. According to UN-Habitat, approximately one third of the urban population in the developing world resides in slum communities. This figure jumps to more than 60 percent in African cities. Often lacking reliable sanitation services, clean water, access to electricity and emergency services the residents of these densely populated informal settlements face significant risks.

One third of the urban population in the developing world resides in slum communities.

For the millions of urban poor, these challenges are compounded by climate-related impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, drought and extreme weather, which contribute to an increasingly uncertain future. Today, crisis is the new normal and the ability of communities to prepare for, manage and rebound from increasing shocks and stresses is critical.

 

Building on past lessons

Last year, the Global Resilience Partnership announced the winners of the Global Resilience Challenge. This first initiative of the partnership surfaced transformative solutions to pressing resilience challenges facing the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and South/Southeast Asia. While impressive in its scope, one of the lessons learned from this process was the power of bringing together diverse actors in order to achieve new outcomes that can improve the lives of poor and vulnerable populations.

Global Resilience Challenge winner MetaMeta Research transforms road infrastructure to harvest rainwater. Photo caption: Roads for Water

As the Partnership moves into 2016, we are excited to announce the results of a partnership with Amplify (a collaboration between the UK’s Department for International Development, OpenIDEO and IDEO.org) as a new means of uncovering innovative approaches to resilience building specifically within urban slum communities.

 

A human-centered approach

Amplify is a series of 10 innovation challenges tackling the biggest challenges in international development. Rooted in human-centered design, the challenges focus on building deep empathy for beneficiaries and drawing inspiration from a diverse range of disciplines. They are completely open: contributors from around the world are invited to post their ideas on a collaborative online platform and engage in a public dialogue that includes designers, entrepreneurs, peers and experts.

Photo credit: Amplify/ IDEO.org

Each challenge is an opportunity for people deeply rooted in their local context to make new connections, be exposed to new ideas and receive feedback early in the ideation process. The Partnership found Amplify as a compelling model, complimentary to its first Global Resilience Challenge, because of its focus on earlier stage ideas and supporting their refinement into concrete projects through monetary and human-centered design support.

Today we are excited to announce that the Amplify-Global Resilience Partnership collaboration will result in the advancement of eight ideas into that refinement phase. The Amplify Urban Resilience Challenge winning ideas include:

  • Kounkeuy Design Initiative
  • Food for Edjucation
  • Slum Dwellers int
  • The Recycler Limited
  • The Gulit Project
  • Build Change
  • BRAC
  • AtmaGO

 

It is worth noting that the majority of these projects are being led by organizations based in the countries where they will be working, a factor that gives the team confidence in that the value being created will directly benefit the local community. We look forward to providing updates on the progress of these projects as they mature over the coming months.