Why do we need an urban needs assessment approach?
In Bangladesh there has been growing recognition that more attention is needed to the humanitarian impacts of disastersthattake place in urban areas because the way people live, the way hazards unfold, and the ways to support recovery are different in the urban landscape from in rural areas. Fire, water logging, flood, building collapse, and chemical pollution are among the hazards faced by people living in urban areas. The 2014 census of slum dwellers and floating population found that across the country 2.23 million people in slums, a 60.43% increase in the 17 years since the last slum census, and a number that is on the rise.
The government in Bangladesh has had a long-standing commitment to disaster preparedness and, together with humanitarian actors, is strengthening this with a specific focus on disastersthat take place in the urban environment. This includes developing urban specific methodologies, guidance and tools for understanding the needs that result from urban disasters and ensuring that the Joint Needs Assessment approach is able to be deployed in urban settings.
The Bangladesh Joint Need Assessment (JNA) is an agreed approach under the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) which includes a flexible suite of tools for assessing needs after any disaster event, it brings stakeholders together around a common assessment approach to achieve a shared understanding of needs based on evidence and thus is the foundation for a coordinated emergency response. The Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) is mandated to come up with a brief assessment report on the needs in the affected community using JNA tools immediately after a disaster takes place in Bangladesh.
The urban needs assessment approach has been developed by the NAWG with the support of ACAPS as an addition to the JNA tools recognizing that urban disasters require a way of understanding needs that is different from the way the JNA is used in rural areas. The focus is on congested informal urban settlements, more commonly referred to as slums1 . Informal settlements are prioritized in the Urban Assessment Approach as the characteristics of these areas make them the most prone to disasters and because the people residing in them, being poor and owning few assets, are vulnerable and will find it difficult to recover from a disaster without assistance. The suggested approach however can be applied to any urban area.