MSF Urban Spaces

MSF Urban Spaces Overview 2018-2021


MSF Urban Spaces initiative, developed as an MSF Transformation Investment Capacity (TIC), in 2018. It aimed to develop a participatory approach to organizing action with communities, by engaging MSF members, volunteers and staff with civil society actors, in support of the most vulnerable groups of society.

By 2021, this approach has been implemented in 15 cities in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, in the context of migration, COVID-19 and climate change. It engaged hundreds of MSF and local volunteers in its activities. During it, over 100 partnerships have been created and more than 10.000 civil society actors and individual citizens, were reached with solidarity action. From 2018-2021, it has been managed from MSF Greece and from August 2021, supported by MSF International Associative Team.

Our aims are:

  • Organizing action with communities and building capacity with and within local communities, in support of the ones most in need.
  • Connecting our cities, learning and getting inspired to take action, by one another’s best practices.

Watch at a glance what MSF Urban Spaces is all about HERE.


MSF Urban Spaces approach is being developed around four distinct steps to it: Creating PartnershipsDeveloping StrategyTaking ActionSustaining Engagement.

2018 – 2019

In 2018 – 2019 the MSF Urban Spaces initiative was launched in the cities of Athens, Istanbul Johannesburg, Mexico City, Montreal and Turin. MSF association members and volunteers formed local teams of action in solidarity of migrants and refugees and in collaboration with local communities, civil society actors and migrants and refuges initiatives. Cities became hubs of action, were local teams of action, developed and implemented numerous activities with the aim to stand in solidarity with migrants and refuges communities.

2020 – 2021

In 2020 – 2021 the MSF Urban Spaces initiative was scaled up to 15 locations in total. These include the cities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Turin, Rome, Palermo, Bergamo, Barcelona, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Istanbul, Montreal, Mexico City, Nairobi, Nigeria/Jigawa State). Given the COVID-19 pandemic, activities focus has been on addressing challenges of the pandemic and how to organize action with local communities, so as to support most vulnerable groups of society. The approach and tools demonstrated, they can be successfully adapted to another context and offer a space of active engagement of volunteers and partnering with civil society actors. Besides COVID-19, the local MSF Urban Spaces team, in South Asia Regional Association (SARA), applied the approach to organize action on climate crisis and health. Since 2018, among the hundreds activities implemented in the context of Migration, Covid-19 pandemic and Climate Crisis and Health were: educational activities at schools, solidarity campaigns and open events, awareness raising activities and informative sessions for migrant and refugee communities, women leadership empowerment activities in remote areas. a.o.

Watch who are the people we reached and engaged in the initiative, HERE.

The Team Behind MSF Urban Spaces initiative

The initiative is run and supported by a group of MSF focal points, from different MSF entities, living the different locations around the world. They all have different professional backgrounds and roles within the organization; MSF members, volunteers and staff. They have been responsible to form and coordinate local teams of action, in which joined representatives from various civil society actors such as grassroots organizations, NGOs, municipalities, foundations, migrants and refuges communities, international networks a.o. . Find out more about the MSF Urban Spaces Focal Points HERE. About the respective Partners in each location you can find out more in detail, in the Partners’ Area in Our Cities space, of this Toolbox.

The global Project Support Team has been responsible for the concept and tools development and also for the ongoing counselling to the focal points of the local teams. Find out more about the global Project Support Team HERE.

A group of volunteers from different countries in America, Asia & Europe studying International Development in Madrid, also supported the MSF Urban Spaces teams to implement their activities by organizing and delivering workshops, preparing communication material, sharing inspiring & solidarity stories from around the world through social media, translating documents in different languages, conducting a mapping of service providers, preparing facilitation and communication guidelines, etc. You can find out more about the volunteers HERE.

Watch here what the people involved said about the initiative HERE.

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