Unlocking Urban Resilience Through Innovative Partnerships

Authors: Sam Carter, Chioma Ume and Rurik Marsden

Posted on 29 January 2016

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.

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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Amplify Urban Resilience Challenge Winning Ideas: AtmaGo BRAC Build Change Kounkuey Design Initiative Melat Assefa & Julia Mauser Recycler Limited Slum Dwellers International & Santa Fe Institute Wawira from Food 4 Education