Emergency Settlement Project

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International Emergency Settlement Conference
New Approaches to New Realities

The First International Emergency Settlement Conference was held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, from 15-20 April 1996, with support from The Ford Foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Disaster Management Center (UW-DMC) and InterWorks, with more than 150 participants from 49 countries, the gathering was an integral part of the ongoing Emergency Settlement Project, which began in 1993.

Conference Goal

The conference goal was to provide a first public forum for gathering and documenting experience into a consensus of principles, standards and best practices. As international, national and non-governmental organizations share their understanding of issues, new approaches and quality tools for field use can be developed and taught. One anticipated result is an improved collective capability for managing humanitarian assistance for emergency settlements.

Conference Process

Keynotes for the conference were delivered by Mary Anderson (Collaborative Development Associates), Edmund Cain (UNDP-Emergency Respoonse Division) and Gene Dewey (Congressional Hunger Center). Also at the keynote session, a computer-based demonstration introduced a graphic technology for highlighting the many links among often separated sectors of emergency humanitarian assistance through a unique Matrix Analysis. Conference workshops debated and refined the twenty-four discussion papers prepared beforehand with input from 75 humanitarian assistance professionals representing over 50 different organizations. These papers were bound into one volume and distributed to facilitate the discussions. Conference participants identified several additional Cross-cutting Issues for discussion and inclusion in subsequent documentation. The week closed with a public lecture titled "Refugee Women in Emergencies," presented by Ann Howarth-Wiles, a senior advisor for women's issues from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That lecture also keynoted a one-day workshop on "Women's Issues in Emergency Settlement," sponsored jointly with the University of Wisconsin-Women's Studies Program.

Workshop Format

The concurrent workshops used material developed and reviewed by conference contributors as the foundation for 24 topic area discussions. The goal for each six-hour workshop was to refine the discussion paper into a coherent draft of principles, best practices, standards and field tools for one topic. Every workshop was led by an experienced facilitator and extensive discussion notes were transcribed. Workshop participation varied from six to sixty persons depending on the topic.

Workshop Topics

Discussion topics for the workshops were originally divided equally into four broad themes: Identification and Planning of Emergency Settlements; Political, Security, Protection, Civil and Human Rights Aspects; Basic Assistance Needs; and, Social, Psychological, Economic and Developmental Issues. The first day's discussions unearthed additional topics, which were then discussed further in the evenings. Optional evening sessions were also arranged on these topics: ReliefWeb(link exits this site) the UNHCR CD-ROM "Refworld," university collaboration, disaster shelters, refugee reproductive health, crisis in the "culture of violence," the Complex Emergency Training Initiative (CETI)-Health Sector and local emergency operations centers.

Preliminary Proceedings

The material developed and reviewed by conference contributors and edited into twenty-four papers was bound into one volume and distributed beforehand as the Conference Preliminary Proceedings. The Foreward, the Workshop Topics and one sample topic paper, "Environmental Health," are available for review at this Web Site. Click here for an order form for purchase of the complete Preliminary Proceedings.

Conference Participants

For the five days of the conference, more than 150 people from 49 countries debated the issues of emergency settlement. Conference participants represented 75 organizations including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, educational institutions and the private sector. Ten Ford Fellows and Scholars and thirty-four UNDP Scholars provided special assistance to the leaders of the conference and workshops.

Participant Comments

There is a summary of the major points which conference participants gave as answers on questionnaires distributed at the close of the conference. Questions were asked about Conference Usefulness, Project Recommendations, Project Topic Suggestions and Project Future. As the Emergency Settlement Project evolves into its next phases, it will attempt to incorporate these concerns and answer these questions wherever possible. All conference participants also received a followup Next Steps Survey Form, which you may complete and return, if interested.

Women's Workshop

As part of the conference, there was a special one-day workshop on "Women's Issues in Emergency Settlement." Since conference participants had already identified "gender" as one of the additional cross-cutting Issues for discussion and inclusion in subsequent documentation, this workshop served to elaborate on the subject.

Conference Support

Development of materials and support for this conference came from many individuals at the University of Wisconsin and InterWorks. The conference coordinators gratefully acknowledge the special efforts of the following individuals: Lynne Bethke, Crystal Busby, Charles Dufresne, Jim Good, Eva Jensen, Jeff Klenk, Marcy Ostrom, Sheila Reed and Philip Sargisson.

Another important task was transcribing the workshop discussions. For that support, special thanks go to Kevin Bohrer, Annie Gazdag, Laura Good, Kristen Johnston, Jennifer Laack, Guy Lawson, Rebecca Furth, Maria Moreno, Ray Peña, Cassie Rademaekers, Andrea Robles, Don Sauer and Joy Wrolson.

Next Steps

The first phases of the project were primarily for information gathering and applied research about problems and possible solutions for the critical issues confronting emergency settlement situations. Knowledge and experience about principles, best practices, standards and field tools were shared at the conference, and will continue to be augmented and improved by other forums. The evolution of this body of knowledge into a collection of practical Learning Resources for use and/or modification by individuals and organizations worldwide is the task of the project's next phases.

MAIL For more information, please contact us at dmc@engr.wisc.edu


Project | Conference | Proceedings | UW-DMC

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Last Modified 07 October 1996