Home | Urban development – Shelter

The Groupe URD Review

Methods and tools

Quality & Accountability COMPAS Quality & Accountability COMPAS
CHS Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS)
Pictogrammme Sigmah Sigmah Software
Pictogrammme Reaching Resilience

Reaching Resilience
Pictogrammme brochure Environnement Training
Pictogrammme brochure Participation Handbook
Pictogrammme globe terrestre The Quality Mission
Pictogrammme PRECIS Humatem PRECIS Method

Urban development – Shelter

For over a decade now, Groupe URD has been analysing post-crisis humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in urban and peri-urban contexts, and in refugee camps.

Cities and crises

Emergency shelter programmes can involve many different forms of assistance: emergency shelters, transitional shelters, modular-re-usable shelters, rehabilitation of existing buildings, extensions, supplying building materials for self-build projects, technical assistance, permanent and semi-permanent housing, cyclone-resistant and earthquake-resistant technologies, etc. Our research and analysis of these programmes and subsequent recommendations have raised questions concerning the appropriateness of this assistance in relation to local needs such as the quality and spaciousness of housing, cultural appropriateness, local ownership, adaptability and sustainability.

Groupe URD’s expertise in humanitarian and reconstruction operations in urban contexts

Through observation, evaluation and analysis of shelter programmes we aim to learn lessons from current aid practices and to identify good practice and innovation in order to avoid the mistakes which often occur in these programmes.

Urban contexts are singularly complex. Cities are the product of historical, technological, social, cultural, political, societal and economic systems. Any kind of crisis will destabilise all of these systems. Through field-level analysis in post-disaster and post-conflict situations, we try to decipher what sparked the crisis and what its impact has been on existing urban systems and governance.


Groupe URD aims to provide the different actors conducting operations in cities with guidance by analysing and clarifying key issues and proposing areas for action. Its specific objectives are:

  • To inform stakeholders about crises, their impacts on cities and crisis management methods;
  • To improve understanding of spontaneous, informal and illegal urbanisation, and the related risks;
  • To inform stakeholders about post-crisis reconstruction mechanisms and actors in urban contexts;
  • To provide tools to understand, describe and map cities;
  • To understand the specific characteristics of property law to make activities safe;
  • To raise awareness about the need for structural urban development;
  • To conduct research on urban technical networks (water, waste disposal, etc.);
  • To encourage the appropriate dialogue at different levels;
  • To inform stakeholders about respecting the environment and resources in densely populated environments;
  • To inform stakeholders about preserving cultural, urban, architectural and social heritage;
  • To encourage cooperation between cities, institutions and professionals.


Groupe URD has also published three books which deal with urban issue:

Contributing to collective reflection

Groupe URD is involved in a number of French and international networks in which we contribute to collective reflection about the international aid sector and share the results of our work. For example, we are part of the French Alliance for Cities and Territorial Development (PFVT) with whom we take part in working groups, events (like the World Urban Forum 2012) and lesson sharing activities. We are also involved in international networks and lesson sharing processes such as the IASC Reference Group on Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas.

For more information, contact Anne Burlat


Groupe URD’s projects related to this theme since 2014:


Articles related to this topic in "Humanitarian Aid on the move":

Read more

Study of humanitarian response for IDPs, in French, December 2017, IIED-Groupe URD
Bangui : l’urbain absent de la réponse à la crise, Bulletin Villes en développement n°105, Anne Burlat, janvier 2017
Urban preparadness, Kathmandu, executive summary, 2014
Urban preparadness, Kathmandu, full report, 2014
Cities in conflict: the lessons of Syria - ODI HPN, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine n°59, François Grünewald, novembre 2013
War in cities: lessons learnt for the new century of urban disasters, François Grünewald, extrait de l’ouvrage War: Global Assessment, Public Attitudes and Psychosocial Effects, 2013
Convergences : Conséquences de l’urbanisation dans les pays en développement, Interview of François Grunewald, 20 september 2012, radio solidaire
Urban vulnerability and humanitarian response, François Grünewald, Disasters - Volume 36, juillet 2012
Humanitarian Aid on the move #8, special issue: Cities and crises
Nouvelles de Kaboul: Kaboul, une ville à construire, Béatrice Boyer, Les Nouvelles de Kaboul, 5 mai 2011
Kaboul, le processus de reconstruction, Béatrice Boyer, Les Nouvelles d’Afghanistan, juin 2007, n°117, pp.3 à 7.
Kabul Urban Survey, Béatrice Boyer, LRRD project, Afghanistan, 2006
Survey "Jalalabad: a resort town of change", Rafika Mahmoudi, LRRD project, Afghanistan, 2006
Jalalabad: a resort town of change, Rafika Mahmoudi, LRRD project, Afghanistan, 2006
A review based on a Multi and Cross Sector Approach, Chapter 2 : SECTOR ISSUES : Urban Development, Water & Irrigation, Agriculture, Nutrition, Health, Education, par Amélie Banzet, Christine Bousquet, Béatrice Boyer, Agnès De Geoffroy, François Grünewald, Domitille Kauffmann, Peggy Pascal et Nicolas Rivière, LRRD project, Afghanistan, Avril 2006
Urban Sector Review, Béatrice Boyer, LRRD project, Afghanistan, 2001 - 2006
Fragiles cités , François Grünewald, Diplomatie, novembre-décembre 2005, n° 17, pp. 69-79.
IDPs and Urban Planning in Khartoum, Agnès de Geoffroy, Forced Migration Review, november 2005, number 24, pp. 38-39
Villes en guerres, guerres en ville : acteurs humanitaires et pratiques urbaines, synthèse des résultats du projet de recherche Villes en guerre, Guerres en ville, juin 2004.
Villes en guerres, guerres en villes : projet de recherche, François Grünewald, Eric Levron, Gouverner les villes du Sud - Défis pour la recherche et l’action, actes du colloque international du PRUD, UNESCO 5-7 mai 2004, pp. 76-81.
Villes en guerre, guerres en ville, coopération décentralisée et action humanitaire, François Grünewald, Le journal, Cités Unies France, août 2002, n° 32.