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Planning Considerations in Humanitarian Camps

This research addresses the critical need to understand whether spatial planning can improve the existing approaches to the delivery of humanitarian response via refugee and internally-displaced-people camps, and support the achievement of crucial human rights and protection objectives, as well as wider economic, social and environmental objectives for both displaced and host populations.



The world is currently witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home due to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, conflicts and other causes. Many of these people end up being hosted for variable extents of time in camps with an estimated current population of about 10 million.

Despite a call from relevant UN agencies for a shift in policy to find alternatives to camps, the number of people living in camps has been increasing by over half million per year since 2014. Camps, which are conceived as means to deliver aid and be temporary, often end up lasting many years, hosting a population many times bigger than what is considered optimal for contingent emergency settlements. In many instances, they can stabilise and become permanent settlements.


Projects aim 

The research critically explores how current approaches to camp coordination and site planning address and take into consideration medium and long-term strategic issues relating to spatial planning. It aims to inspire new approaches, identify gaps and make recommendations to decision-makers and humanitarian responders who wish to consider long-term built environment and planning implications of their choices from the onset of a crisis that requires the setting up of a camp.

The project is being co-produced by the RTPI and UCL-DPU and is part of the RTPI's commitment to the Global Alliance for Urban Crises.