Cities as Aid Agencies? Preliminary Prospects and Cautionary Signposts from Post-Disaster Interurban Cooperation in Asia



Anchored on network-based city-to-city cooperation, a relatively young and underexplored form of decentralized development cooperation, this chapter presents the experience of selected Asian cities in extending outbound relief and technical assistance and in promoting risk reduction measures outside their territorial boundaries. It specifically discusses six cases of cooperation under the umbrella of a city network: (a) Yokohama, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Banda Aceh (2005–2008); (b) Makati and Kathmandu (2008); (c) Moratuwa, Galle and Yokohama (2005–2007); (d) Mumbai and Khulna (2009); (e) Yokohama and Bangkok (1997–2001); and (f) Yokohama, Islamabad and Muzaffarabad (2006–2009).

Lessons from these case studies indicate that network-supported inter-city cooperation has the potential to break down the traditional practice of development aid as being a North-South partnership. It also shows that while most of the partnerships involved local authorities as primary actors, cooperation has been enriched by the participation of a third partner such as a non-government organization, a municipal association or a research institute. The cases further demonstrate that city-to-city cooperation has provided a flexible mechanism for effecting changes at any point in the DRM cycle, that is, not just during the response phase. Some of the challenges faced by the cities and the city network in fostering inter-city cooperation include the need to: bring in more cities, especially small and intermediate cities, and actors into the partnership; augment funding at the network and city level; enhance the cooperation experience to be more inclusive; and strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.


Cities Inter-city networks Cross-border disasters Decentralised disaster governance 


  1. Acuto, M. (2010). Global cities: Gorillas in our midst. Alternatives, 35, 425–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acuto, M. (2013). City leadership in global governance. Global Governance, 19(3), 481–498.Google Scholar
  3. Atkinson, A. (2001). International cooperation in pursuit of sustainable cities. Development in Practice, 11(2–3), 273–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bang, H. N. (2013). Governance of disaster risk reduction in Cameroon: The need to empower local government. Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, 5(2), 1–10.Google Scholar
  5. Bello, W. (2006). The rise of the relief-and- reconstruction complex. Journal of International Affairs, 59(2), 281–296.Google Scholar
  6. Bendimerad, F. (2009). Open-file-report on the state-of-the-practice of urban disaster risk management. Geneva: Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI).Google Scholar
  7. Berse, K (2013). An analysis of city-to-city cooperation in Asia: CityNet experience and the readiness of Philippine cities. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Tokyo: The University of Tokyo.Google Scholar
  8. Berse, K., & Asami, Y. (2010). An idea in good currency? Terminologies and spatio-temporal trends in city-to-city cooperation research. In Proceedings of the Conference of Asian City Planning, 8th Conference of Asian City Planning (pp. 119–128). Tokyo: The University of Tokyo.Google Scholar
  9. Berse, K., & Asami, Y. (2012). From Yokohama with love: Transferring best practices through international municipal cooperation. In Y. Nishimura & C. Dimmer (Eds.), Planning for sustainable Asian cities, APSA 2011 Selected Papers (pp. 190–201). Tokyo: Asian Planning Schools Association.Google Scholar
  10. Birkland, T. (2006). Lessons of disaster: Policy change after catastrophic events. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Blok, A., & Tschötschel, R. (2015). World port cities as cosmopolitan risk community: Mapping urban climate policy experiments in Europe and East Asia. Environment and Planning C: Government & Policy, XX, 1–20.Google Scholar
  12. Bontenbal, M. (2009). Strengthening urban governance in the South through city-to-city cooperation: Towards an analytical framework. Habitat International, 33(2), 181–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bontenbal, M., & van Lindert, P. (2008). Bridging local institutions and civil society in Latin America: Can city-to-city cooperation make a difference? Environment and Urbanization, 20(2), 465–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, M. (1998). Towns that build bridges. History Today, 48(8), 3–6.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, E. S. (1987). The ideals and origins of the Franco-German sister cities movement, 1945–70. History of European Ideas, 8(1), 77–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell, T. (2009). Learning cities: Knowledge, capacity and competitiveness. Habitat International, 33(2), 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. CityNet. (1998). Guidelines for transferring effective practices: A practical manual for South-South cooperation. Yokohama: CityNet.Google Scholar
  19. CityNet. (2001). Monkey cheek in city: Lessons from Yokohama. CityVoice, 10(22), 3.Google Scholar
  20. CityNet. (2005a). Fighting the ripples: Rebuilding after the tsunami. CityVoice, 14(33), 3.Google Scholar
  21. CityNet (2005b). e-News, (20), March–April.Google Scholar
  22. CityNet (2005c) e-News, (21), May–June.Google Scholar
  23. CityNet (2005d). e-News, (23), September–October.Google Scholar
  24. CityNet (2006a). e-News, (25), January–February.Google Scholar
  25. CityNet (2006b). e-News, (26), March–April.Google Scholar
  26. CityNet (2006c). e-News, (30), November–December.Google Scholar
  27. CityNet. (2006d). Experts visit Islamabad. CityVoice, 15(36), 2.Google Scholar
  28. CityNet. (2006e). Untitled. CityVoice, 15(35), 2.Google Scholar
  29. CityNet (2007a). e-News, (31), January–February.Google Scholar
  30. CityNet (2007b). e-News, (32), March–April.Google Scholar
  31. CityNet (2007c). e-News, (34), July–August.Google Scholar
  32. CityNet (2009a). e-News, (45), May–June.Google Scholar
  33. CityNet. (2009b). Mumbai: Extensive contribution to Khulna City, Bangladesh. CityVoice, 18(45), 2.Google Scholar
  34. CityNet (2009c). e-News, (46), July–August.Google Scholar
  35. CityNet (2009d). e-News, (48), November–December.Google Scholar
  36. Clarke, N. (2011). Globalising care? Town twinning in Britain since 1945. Geoforum, 42(1), 115–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Commission for Africa (2005). Our common interest. Report of the Commission for Africa.Google Scholar
  38. Commission on Audit (2014). Assessment of disaster risk reduction and management at the local level.Google Scholar
  39. Corbridge, S. (1993). Marxisms, modernities and moralities: Development praxis and the claims of distant strangers. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 11(4), 449–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. CRED & UNISDR (2015) The human cost of weather-related disasters, 1995–2915. Geneva.Google Scholar
  41. de Villiers, J. C. (2009). Success factors and the city-to-city partnership management process – from strategy to alliance capability. Habitat International, 33, 149–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Dogliani, P. (2002). European municipalism in the first half of the twentieth century: The socialist network. Contemporary European History, 11(4), 573–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Douglass, M. (2002). From global intercity competition to cooperation for livable cities and economic resilience in Pacific Asia. Environment and Urbanization, 14(1), 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Douglass, M. (2010). Globalization, mega-projects and the environment: Urban form and water in Jakarta. Environment and Urbanization ASIA, 1(1), 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Easterly, W., & Pfutze, T. (2008). Where does the money go? Best and worst practices in foreign aid. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(2), 29–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Easterly, W., & Williamson, C. R. (2011). Rhetoric versus reality: The best and worst of aid agency practices. World Development, 39(11), 1930–1949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ewen, S., & Hebbert, M. (2007). European cities in a networked world during the long twentieth-century. Environment and Planning C: Government & Policy, 25(3), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Fry, E. H., Radebaugh, L. H., & Soldatos, P. (1989). The new international cities era: The global activities of North American municipal governments. Provo: Kennedy Center for International Studies, Brigham Young University.Google Scholar
  49. Funfgeld, H. (2015). Facilitating local climate change adaptation through transnational municipal networks. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 12, 67–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Gaspari, O. (2002). Cities against states? Hopes, dreams and shortcomings of the European municipal movement, 1900–1960. Contemporary European History, 11(4), 597–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. GMA (2013). Cebu City offers to send team to help identify Yolanda dead in Tacloban. GMA News, 21 November, viewed 12 February 2016,
  52. Hafteck, P. (2003). An introduction to decentralized cooperation: Definitions, origins and conceptual mapping. Public Administration and Development, 23(4), 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Hewitt, W. E. (1998). The role of international municipal cooperation in housing the developing world’s urban poor: The Toronto-Sao Paulo example. Habitat International, 22(4), 411–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Hewitt, W. E. (1999a). Municipalities and the ‘new’ internationalism: Cautionary notes from Canada. Cities, 16(6), 435–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Hewitt, W. E. (1999b). Cities working together to improve urban services in developing areas: The Toronto-Sao Paulo example. Studies in Comparative International Development, 34(1), 27–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Hewitt, W. E. (2004). Improving citizen participation in local government in Latin America through international cooperation: A case study. Development in Practice, 14(5), 619–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Hobbs, H. (1994). City hall goes abroad: The foreign policy of local politics. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  58. IAPH (2016). Data base of IAPH member ports. Viewed 28 February 2016,
  59. IFNET (2009). Flood information: Impact of cyclone AILA. Viewed 8 June 2016,
  60. IFRC. (2014). World disasters report 2014. Geneva: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. viewed 29 April 2016, Scholar
  61. IMF & World Bank. (2006). Global monitoring report 2006: Strengthening mutual accountability: Aid, trade, and governance. Washington, DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ishinabe, N. (2010). Analysis of international city-to-city cooperation and intercity networks For Japanese National and Local Governments. Kitakyushu: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).Google Scholar
  63. Johnson, H., & Wilson, G. (2006). North–South/South–North partnerships: Closing the ‘mutuality gap’. Public Administration and Development, 26(1), 71–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Keiner, M., & Kim, A. (2007). Transnational city networks for sustainability. European Planning Studies, 15(10), 1369–1395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Keum, H. (2000). Globalization and inter-city cooperation in Northeast Asia. East Asia, 18(2), 97–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Klein, N. (2007). Blanking the beach: The second tsunami. In The shock doctrine. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
  67. Kübler, D., & Piliutyte, J. (2007). Intergovernmental relations and international urban strategies: Constraints and opportunities in multilevel polities. Environment and Planning C: Government & Policy, 25(3), 357–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Kurniawan, T. A., de Oliveira, J. P., Premakumara, G. J., & Nagaishi, M. (2013). City-to-city level cooperation for generating urban co-benefits: The case of technological cooperation in the waste sector between Surabaya (Indonesia) and Kitakyushu (Japan). Journal of Cleaner Production, 58, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Lawson, V. (2007). Geographies of care and responsibility. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Maeda, T. (2012). Networking cities for better environmental management: How networking functions can enhance local initiatives. In Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) (pp. 137–158). Greening Governance in Asia-Pacific, IGES White Paper IV. Hayama: IGES.Google Scholar
  71. Metro Manila Development Authority (2013). MDA bares final list of Metro Manila typhoon ‘Yolanda’ adopt-a-town program. MMDA, 20 November, viewed 15 May 2016,
  72. Miller, M. A., & Bunnell, T. (2012). Asian cities in an era of decentralisation. Space and Polity, 16(1), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Miller, M. A., & Douglass, M. (2016). Decentralising disaster governance in urbanising Asia. Habitat International, 52, 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Nakamura, H., Elder, M., & Mori, H. (2011). The surprising role of local governments in international environmental cooperation: The case of Japanese collaboration with developing countries. Journal of Environment & Development, 20(3), 219–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Niederhafner, S. (2013). Comparing functions of transnational city networks in Europe and Asia. Asia Europe Journal, 11(4), 377–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Oloruntoba, R. (2005). A wave of destruction and the waves of relief: Issues, challenges and strategies. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, 14(4), 506–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Park, S.H. (2012). Post-cold war trans-border networks in Northeast Asia: The Busan-Fukuoka network, ARI Working Paper. National University of Singapore – Asia Research Institute, 193, p 1214.Google Scholar
  78. Revi, A., Satterthwaite, D. E., Aragón-Durand, F., Corfee-Morlot, J., Kiunsi, R. B. R., Pelling, M., Roberts, D. C., & Solecki, W. (2014). Urban areas. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K. L. Ebi, Y. O. Estrada, R. C. Genova, B. Girma, E. S. Kissel, A. N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P. R. Mastrandrea, & L. L. White (Eds.), Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects, Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 535–612). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Saligumba, J.R.L. (2013). Duterte rejoins rescue, medical team to Tacloban. Davao Today, 11 November, viewed 12 February 2016,
  80. Shuman, M. (1994). Towards a global village: International community development initiatives. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  81. Silk, J. (2007). Caring at a distance: (Im)partiality, moral motivation and the ethics of representation—introduction. Ethics, Place and Environment, 3(3), 303–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sitinjak, E., Sagala, S., & Rianawati, E. (2014). Opportunity for sister city application to support resilience city, Resilience Development Initiative (RDI) Working Paper Series (Vol. 8). Bandung: RDI.Google Scholar
  83. Tesiorna, B.O. (2015). Leyte solon recognizes Davao City’s help during Yolanda. CNN Philippines, August 25, viewed 14 June 2016,
  84. Tjandradewi, B.I. (2011). City-to-city cooperation for environmental education: Initiatives implemented by CityNet. In Lessons learnt from regional intercity networking to promote sustainable cities in Asia (pp. 49–77). Kitakyushu: IGES.Google Scholar
  85. Tjandradewi, B. I., & Berse, K. (2011). Building local government resilience through city-to-city cooperation. In R. Shaw & A. Sharma (Eds.), Climate and disaster resilience in cities (Vol. 6, pp. 203–224). Bingley: Emerald Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Tjandradewi, B. I., Marcotullio, P. J., & Kidokoro, T. (2006). Evaluating city-to-city cooperation: A case study of the Penang and Yokohama experience. Habitat International, 30(3), 357–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Tzifakis, N., & Huliaras, A. (2015). The perils of outsourcing post-conflict reconstruction: Donor countries, international NGOs and private military and security companies. Conflict, Security and Development, 15(1), 51–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. UN-Habitat, & WACLAC. (2003). Partnership for local capacity development: Building on the experiences of city-to-city cooperation. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.Google Scholar
  89. Vion, A. (2002). Europe from the bottom up: Town twinning in France during the Cold War. Contemporary European History, 11(4), 623–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Walton-Ellery, S. (2009). A review of the cyclone Aila response 2009. IFRC-led Emergency Shelter Coordination Group. Viewed 8 June 2016,
  91. Weyreter, M. (2003). Germany and the town twinning movement. Contemporary Review, 281(1644), 37–43.Google Scholar
  92. Wisner, B., & Gaillard, J. C. (2009). An introduction to neglected disasters. Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, 2(3), 151–158.Google Scholar
  93. Yamazaki, K. (2006). Chihou kokusaika ni okeru kokusai kyouryoku no genjou to kadai (Current state and issues of international cooperation in regional internationalization). Jichitai Kokusaika Foramu (Local Governmental International Forum), 199, 1–4.Google Scholar
  94. Zelinsky, W. (1991). The twinning of the world: Sister cities in geographic and historical perspective. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 81(1), 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Zoomers, A., & van Western, G. (2011). Introduction: Translocal development corridors and development chains. International Development Planning Review, 33(1), 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National College of Public Administration GovernanceUniversity of the PhilippinesQuezon City (NCR)Philippines

Personalised recommendations