Call for proposals for research on local markets in times of urban crisis

News, 27 June 2016
IIED is inviting proposals for original research that will contribute to understanding local markets in the context of urban humanitarian crisis and response. Closing date: 21 July, 2016

Women sell camel milk in Beletweyne, Somalia. Recent flooding has displaced 17,000 people and is driving up food prices (Photo: AMISOM Photo/Tobin Jones, Creative Commons via Flickr)

Researchers have until 21 July, 2016 to submit proposals for research projects (PDF) that can contribute to the goal of improving humanitarian response in urban contexts.

With funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), the 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 will work to fill evidence gaps by facilitating primary research, reflecting on past humanitarian responses, developing new tools, and learning from experiences in other fields. 

This is the third of four planned thematic calls for proposals, with the last call to be issued in the third quarter of 2016. The previous call for proposals focused on projects looking at how best to protect vulnerable people in urban crisis situations. Seven projects received funding and are now under way. 

Focus: markets in the context of urban humanitarian response

The focus of this call is on examining local markets in the context of responses to urban humanitarian crises.

The function of urban areas as hubs in local and global supply chains, the extent and scale of urban formal and informal markets, the interplay between consumers and suppliers, and the diversity of livelihood activities they host, mean that a closer examination of the impacts of a humanitarian intervention on these features and on their recovery from a crisis is required. 

The intention of the research projects is to inform humanitarian programming around engagement with local market actors, including suppliers and consumers (from both host and displaced communities), fostering the recovery of local markets and their roles in supply chains, and enabling more effective market-based programming.

IIED researcher Diane Archer said: "There are no geographical restrictions on the study locations (although the final decision will take the overall geographical coverage of the portfolio of projects into account), nor on the type of humanitarian crisis being addressed, as long as proposed studies contribute new evidence and understanding to the topic. We particularly welcome the collection of new primary data."

Indicative topics or themes might include, but are not limited to, examining and analysing:

  • The roles that markets can play in an urban environment in fostering recovery following a humanitarian crisis
  • The ways in which markets impacted by crises in turn affect the livelihoods and subsistence of urban residents, and consequently, how humanitarian responses and their effects on markets can have positive or negative impacts on local populations – including both refugee and host populations in the context of displacement
  • The challenges and opportunities for market analysis in the urban context, including for displaced and host populations, and the tools that can be used for such analysis
  • The ways in which humanitarian and development programming can jointly help to support the restoration of markets in a post-crisis situation, and
  • The consequences of humanitarian interventions in urban contexts on local markets and supply chains, including but not limited to the effects on service providers (such as water and energy) and other local businesses.

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 1 September 2016 and completion and publication of research outputs by 28 February 2017, and
  • We encourage collaborative research projects where local partners play a substantial role in the study process. 

Submission process

  • Proposals should be sent to IIED by email ( not later than 12pm (GMT) on Thursday, 21 July 2016
  • Submissions should be in the form of a brief proposal (not more than five pages, plus budget, using Microsoft Excel) following the guidelines (PDF)
  • For further information, contact Diane Archer via


For further information, contact Diane Archer in IIED's Human Settlements research group – email:

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