New publication launched with Arup: The Proximity of Care Design Guide

Published March 22, 2021

Last week the Bernard van Leer Foundation and Arup launched the Proximity of Care Design Guide, developed to support the design and implementation of cost-effective interventions that improve the living conditions and well-being of infants, toddlers and caregivers in vulnerable urban environments, with benefits for the entire community.

Initially conceived before Covid-19 and aimed primarily at informal and refugee settlements – which are home to hundreds of millions of children – the guide has become increasingly relevant more widely, as the pandemic has pushed more urban families into poverty around the world.

The Design Guide was launched last week at an online event reported in news outlets such as Thomson Reuters.

Jointly developed by child development experts and urban designers, the guide includes sections on:

  • Understand – Tools to assess the needs and constraints of young children, caregivers and pregnant women.
  • Design – Co-creation tools and design solutions for effective and context-sensitive interventions.
  • Influence – Evidence to persuade decision makers about child- and family-friendly interventions.
  • Get Inspired – A selection of best-practice examples of projects from around the globe.

Sara Candiracci, Associate Director, Arup International Development, said:

“Interventions to improve the development of children can have long-lasting, transformative effects on cities and we must deploy them now to prevent the pandemic from inflicting lasting damage on already deprived communities.”

Cecilia Vaca Jones, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, added:

“While developed specifically for informal settlements, the Guide is relevant for all cities working to address the urban inequalities that have been made even more visible and critical following the Covid-19 pandemic.”

We hope this guide will provide tangible and measurable principles for city governments, urban practitioners, early childhood specialists, and development and humanitarian professionals to create healthy, supportive, stimulating, and protective urban environments where children can thrive.

The guide was informed by research and fieldwork in refugee and informal settlements in Kenya, Lebanon, Jordan and South Africa, in collaboration with local partners: the Kounkuey Design Initiative, CatalyticAction, Civic and VPUU.