International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

IIED is inviting proposals for original research that can contribute to our understanding of the links between humanitarian response and development goals, with specific reference to urban humanitarian crises.

With funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), the IIED Urban Crises Learning Fund aims to build an in-depth understanding of how the humanitarian sector can most effectively operate in urban contexts.  

The fund seeks to fill evidence gaps through primary research, reflecting on past humanitarian responses, developing new tools, and learning from experiences in other fields. It aims to develop a better understanding of how the humanitarian sector can most effectively operate in urban contexts and work with urban actors – an imperative in an increasingly urban world facing both slow- and fast-onset crises, from food shortages to conflict and natural disasters. 

This work aims to inform the activities of  'operational' organisations, and to provide useable lessons for local governments, national and international NGOs and bilateral funding agencies. Further details of the Urban Crises Learning Fund

This is the final call in a series of thematic calls for research proposals. Previous calls focused on projects looking at effective collaboration in urban humanitarian responses, protecting vulnerable people, and local markets in times of urban crisis. 

Focus: links between humanitarian and development responses in urban contexts

The focus of this call is on the interface between humanitarian and developmental responses in the context of urban crises. 

The response and recovery phases of crises can provide opportunities to address underlying drivers of vulnerability and to develop local capacity, particularly in urban settings where local stakeholders such as municipalities may be closely involved.

Resilience-building is increasingly used to link development goals with humanitarian interventions – but the social and political contexts of crisis-affected countries may limit its effectiveness. In complex urban settings this may be even more the case. 

This research call seeks to understand how humanitarian response can and has contributed to development goals in urban contexts. Indicative topics or themes might include, but are not limited to, examining and analysing:
  • Ways in which emergency responses and interventions can also address underlying vulnerabilities in situations of slow onset crises as well as sudden onset shocks
  • The role of community-based approaches as a developmental resource in early recovery
  • Opportunities for improving urban governance and strengthening institutions through humanitarian response
  • Post-displacement development strategies for host and displaced populations
  • The role of adaptive programming in situations of complexity and rapid change, and
  • The challenge of coordination at the sub-national level, and how humanitarian and development coordination can be interlinked.
This call is open to researchers and practitioners globally, whether independent or part of an organisation in the public, non-profit or private sector. 

There are no restrictions on the location of the study, or on the type of humanitarian crisis being addressed, as long as studies contribute new evidence and understanding. We particularly welcome the collection of new primary data. The research should be framed in such a way that it is relevant to local governments, national and international NGOs, and other actors in the field of urban humanitarian response. 

We particularly encourage proposals that support local participation in the co-production of knowledge. 

Further information

  • We expect to fund around five projects with budgets in the range of GBP £15,000-30,000  per project in this call
  • Successful applicants will be expected to produce a working paper (up to 15,000 words) and a policy briefing paper (2,000 words) to be published in English as an IIED product (with appropriate co-branding as relevant)
  • IIED will facilitate a process of review of the working papers and will provide editorial support in the publication process
  • We expect each research project to last between three to six months, with an expected contract start date of 20 December 2016 and submission of final draft outputs by 30 June, 2017, and
  • We encourage collaborative research projects where local partners play a substantial role in the study process.



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