The Neighborhood Approach

“We took a huge risk, but we were right in thinking that the emergency was the right time to address long-term vulnerabilities. To get people set up so they could recover versus only putting a shelter down wherever you can find space.”

—Jim DiFrancesca, PCI Director of Humanitarian Assistance

The Neighborhood Approach

“We took a huge risk, but we were right in thinking that the emergency was the right time to address long-term vulnerabilities. To get people set up so they could recover versus only putting a shelter down wherever you can find space.”

—Jim DiFrancesca, PCI Director of Humanitarian Assistance

Overview

The global population is expected to double by 2050, adding the equivalent of more than 900 New York Cities to the world in just 30 years. The majority of this growth will occur in developing countries where unplanned and uncontrolled urban expansion is already resulting in significant hardship, hunger, and poor health for households and communities.

Built quickly, informal urban settlements are highly prone to a wide array of disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. They often have inadequate and unsafe housing structures and insufficient access to basic water or sanitation services leaving households vulnerable to the rapid spread of disease and other hazards. There are also high levels of exploitation in these communities where access to education, health services, and livelihood opportunities are limited and high rates of crime, gender-based violence, and gang activity abound.

The global impacts of urbanization are clear and present new challenges that the humanitarian and development communities continue to struggle to overcome. Diseases are able to spread at an unprecedented pace and disasters can destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands at a time. These trends are compounded by armed conflict, violence and exploitation, climate change, and an increasing income inequality gap.

The Neighborhood Approach

In the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, PCI, with funding from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), developed draft guidelines for the Neighborhood Approach to address the need for a more integrated, holistic, and inclusive approach to humanitarian response. Today, the Neighborhood Approach is one of PCI’s core strategies that has been proven to make high-risk areas healthier, safer and more resilient. From addressing droughts in Africa to responding to urban disasters in informal settlements, PCI has used the Neighborhood Approach across many of its programs for over a decade.

The Neighborhood Approach is a means of responding to multi-sector needs through a community-based decision-making process that takes into account the social, economic, and physical features within a specific geographic area.

This urban and rural emergency response framework was designed to meet immediate humanitarian aid needs while addressing the deeper issues associated with vulnerability to build foundations for greater resilience in the future. The framework can also be applied in high-risk areas as a strategy to reduce risk to disasters.

PCI’s Neighborhood Approach has five core pillars. The framework must:

  • Be neighborhood-based and promote close coordination of partners working together with communities;
  • Provide an integrated set of interventions to meet the range of needs of affected populations;
  • Meet humanitarian needs and support recovery and greater resilience to future shocks and stresses;
  • Be inclusive of, and driven by, a broad range of local stakeholders and community members; and
  • Provide strategies that are highly localized, evidence-based, and context-specific.

Coming Back Stronger In Haiti

In 2010, 70 percent of Port-au-Prince, Haiti was destroyed by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Even before the earthquake, families near downtown Port-au-Prince were living in poverty without access to safe sanitation. The earthquake killed an estimated 250,000 people, injured another 300,000, and displaced roughly five million. This disaster tragically demonstrated how urbanization can increase the vulnerability of the world’s developing cities during a humanitarian crisis.

In response to this emergency, PCI and partners launched the Katye Project with funding from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. This project delivered emergency humanitarian assistance while also laying a foundation for long-term, community-led recovery and resilience in the Port-Au-Prince neighborhood of Ravine Pintade. The proven success of the Katye project launched PCI’s unique Neighborhood Approach to disaster recovery and response.

Learn more about the success of this project.

How can you help?

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Supporting Urban Disaster Resilience in Guatemala

Since 2012, PCI’s Barrio Mio, Spanish for “my neighborhood,” project in Guatemala has been improving urban resilience in seven municipalities that are prone to disasters like landslides, flooding, earthquakes along with other challenges such as violence, poverty, and food insecurity.

The Barrio Mio program evolved from PCI’s Neighborhood Approach and connects a broad range of stakeholders to improve urban programming. People from vulnerable communities—women, men, children, youth, the elderly, and persons with disabilities—banks, municipalities, ministries, the private sector, universities, and local organizations work together to identify risks and develop collaborative strategies to increase resilience and respond to crises.

Through this program, vulnerable urban neighborhoods can work to increase income, expand agricultural productivity, improve health and clean water and sanitation conditions, and help communities identify and address shocks and stresses.

Success Through Partnerships

PCI’s work is made possible through the support of our many partners.

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