International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

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The IFRC provides humanitarian relief to victims of disasters in non-conflict situations and combines it with work in disaster response, disaster preparedness, health and community care. The IFRC also has programs addressing the humanitarian consequences of rapid urbanization, climate change, violence and migration. The Secretariat of the IFRC, based in Geneva, represents globally its 192 National Societies. It coordinates and mobilizes relief assistance for international emergencies.

The humanitarian consequences of rapid and unplanned urbanization and growing disaster risks in urban areas have long been on the agenda of the IFRC. They will increasingly do so, given that more and more disasters, migration crises, health and other emergencies occur in or have significant impact on urban communities. Below are the various activities undertaken by IFRC in these areas.


Urban Collaboration Platform


Since 2015, the IFRC has been facilitating an exchange of knowledge and experience among the National Societies and their partners through the Urban Collaboration Platform which seeks to strengthen knowledge, engagement and operational skills of National Societies in complex urban settings. As such, this Platform has organized workshops and webinars on a variety of urban topics (water and sanitation, waste management, urban migration & climate change, etc.) which can be found here.


Climate Centre and Global Disaster Preparedness Centre


The IFRC, with technical support from its reference centers – namely the Climate Centre and Global Disaster Preparedness Centre (GDPC) – has developed a variety of tools and guidance for urban contexts:

  • Urban Community Resilience Toolbox: to help urban communities identify their resilience priorities and design sustainable and scalable solutions together with a diverse set of partners. This toolbox is made of three toolkits to be used in a complementary manner:
  • City-wide resilience assessment: it aims at helping local organizations such as Red Cross/Crescent branches, local governments, community groups and leaders, identify risk, priorities and entry points for building resilience at the community level that can contribute to overall city-level resilience.
  • Building coalitions for resilience: a guide to build the multi-stakeholder coalitions (local governments, civil society organizations, private sector, academia, community volunteers) needed to address the increasingly complex issues facing urban areas and pursue locally developed solutions for resilience and climate change adaptation.
  • Designing solutions for urban community resilience: this toolkit offers a methodology to co-design viable, inclusive and sustainable community resilience solutions.


Urban Action Kit


The Urban Action Kit is a quick start, low-cost, do-it-yourself guide to urban resilience. It supports local actors to undertake urban resilience activities in their urban communities so as build social cohesion, improve livelihoods, and make cities more livable.


Heatwave Guides for Cities


The Heatwave Guides for Cities provides information and recommendations for technical staff within city governments, including on working with partners to understand city-specific heatwave risks; operational approaches to prepare for an imminent heatwave; response strategies to reduce human harm during a heatwave; and ways to learn from a heatwave that has just ended.


IASC interim guidance on localization and the Covid-19


In the context of the Grand Bargain, IFRC has been championing together with Switzerland the “local humanitarian action” agenda, which argues that strong, sustainable, relevant and effective local actors achieve better preparedness, response and recovery in humanitarian settings, thereby improving outcomes for affected populations. The term “local actors” should include National Societies, local NGOs and the private sector, as well as municipalities and local authorities. As opposed to international humanitarian organizations stepping in and out of a context, local actors are here before, during and after the crisis occurs. With the global pandemic, localization has become a stronger necessity. It is also an opportunity for effectively meeting humanitarian needs and recovery efforts post Covid-19. IFRC has co-led the development of IASC interim guidance on localization and the Covid-19 with UN-Habitat and other partners which examines how the international humanitarian community can adapt its delivery modalities in response to Covid-19 consistent with existing commitments on localization of aid, strengthening partnerships with local and national actors, and operating effectively in an environment affected by Covid-19.


Global Shelter Cluster


Shelter and Settlements work: IFRC co-leads the work of the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC) in disaster situations at global level. The GSC is a global coordination mechanism for all shelter actors, including local and national governments. Its role is to ensure that people who need shelter assistance get help faster and receive the right kind of support. In parallel to the growing impacts of disasters in urban areas, the nature of the GSC’s work has become increasingly urban and a Working Group of the GSC is dedicated to area-based and settlements approaches in urban areas.


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June 8, 2022