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Wars in cities and cities in wars
2002 - 2004

Part of the Urban Research for Development Programme (PRUD), this research project aimed to improve understanding of the impact of crises in urban contexts and promote better practices.

Humanitarian actors are confronted with a major dilemma when dealing with urban contexts: is the goal of humanitarian action to restore the “old” city, with the characteristics it had before the conflict, or is it to participate in developing a “new” city? If it is the latter, the question still remains about how to maintain continuity with the past, raising the question of sustainable development and resilience and the ability to survive a trauma and accept the transformation that it brings.

This research aimed to improve understanding of the impact of crises in urban contexts and promote better humanitarian practices through analysis, evaluation and knowledge management.

The more specific objectives were:

  • To improve understanding of humanitarian actors’ positioning and the interaction between different local bodies which are present during crises in urban and rural contexts;
  • To analyse the impact of projects being run by humanitarian actors in crisis zones;
  • To analyse the dynamics of return among victims of war and the practices of international organisations in the process of re-investing urban areas;
  • To develop initial assessment tools to improve the sustainability of refugee integration in crisis situations and to help make the transition from an emergency to a development situation.

Case studies were carried out in the cities of several countries: Mali (Tombouctou and Gao), Guinée (Guéckédou and Kissidougou), Pakistan (Peshawar), Angola (Huambo), Colombia (Bogota) and Afghanistan (Kabul).

This research, which was carried out in partnership with the NGO, Architecture et Développement, was financed by ISTED (Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l’Equipement et de l’Environnement pour le Développement) and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This research led to the publication of a book entitled "Villes en Guerre et Guerres en Ville", which is part of the Pratiques Humanitaires collection edited by Groupe URD and published by Karthala.