Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience

Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience

The concept of urban resilience is increasingly being used to describe the attributes of the urban system that are needed to deal with environmental disasters, conflict and financial crises. Large-scale, sudden population movements, prompted by both rapid-onset ‘natural’ disasters such as floods and ‘man-made’ disasters like conflict are on the rise, seeing increasing numbers of displaced people moving into urban areas. This represents a significant stress factor, in particular for towns and cities with already weak formal institutions that face difficulties in delivering adequate basic services to growing populations.
 
The paper considers resilience to mass displacement in urban areas, focussing on the social and economic sub-systems – namely, shelter, health care and protection; basic service provision; economic development and employment; and social and political inclusion and community cohesion. It focuses on how well the urban system responds to new challenges and provides solutions for all residents. In particular, the paper finds that the resilience of an urban system cannot be understood without attention to the diverse experiences and needs of different groups within it: longer-term residents, new arrivals, temporary residents and, particularly, vulnerable groups.
 
 
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