CityStrength Diagnostic

The CityStrength Diagnostic was developed as a means of engaging with cities on the complex issue of resilience by using a holistic approach to identifying priority action and investments to strengthen urban systems. The methodology first evaluates resilience on a sectoral basis and then brings together the findings to think holistically about the city’s resilience. With this in mind, the CityStrength Diagnostic is structured around sectoral modules that cover topics within the city and metropolitan area purview. In addition, new modules can be created based on client’s demand.

Full Description:

With most of the global population and capital goods concentrated in urban areas, cities are key to social development and economic prosperity. They are drivers of national economic growth and innovation, and act as cultural and creative centers. But urbanization also brings challenges. With a greater concentration of people, assets and infrastructure in urban areas, an increasingly complex range of shocks and stresses can put in jeopardy human wellbeing and hard-won development gains.

Within this global context, the CityStrength Diagnostic was developed to facilitate a dialogue among stakeholders (e.g. government, civil society, residents, and the private sector) about risks, resilience, and the performance of urban systems. It helps identify priority actions and investments that will enhance the city’s resilience as well as increase the resilience-building potential of planned and aspirational projects.

Because cities depend on a complex network of infrastructure, institutions, and information – the CityStrength Diagnostic first evaluates resilience on a sectoral basis and then brings together the findings to think holistically about the city’s resilience. This process leads to the identification of critical gaps or areas of weakness that should be prioritized to unlock opportunities within the city. With this in mind, the CityStrength Diagnostic is structured around sectoral modules that cover topics within the city and metropolitan area purview, including Community and Social Protection, Disaster Risk Management, Education, Energy, Environment, Health, Information and Communications Technology, Local Economy, Logistics, Municipal Finance, Solid Waste, Transport, Urban Development, and Water and Sanitation.

The CityStrength Diagnostic can be used in any city regardless of size, institutional capacity, or phase of development.

The CityStrength Diagnostic has been piloted in Can Tho, Vietnam, in Addis Ababa and ten regional capitals in Ethiopia, and across 16 municipalities in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area.  Across these pilots, several benefits have been highlighted as part of the process:

  • Inclusion - CityStrength invites multiple stakeholder perspectives, including across departments and tiers of government, civil society, and the private sector.
  • Learning - CityStrength encourages learning and exchange on the issue of resilience and exposes stakeholders to global best practices by engaging with sectoral specialists. 
  • Development Impact - CityStrength identifies investment priorities in relation to city-wide resilience building needs – rather than only sectoral issues – that are aligned with local goals and development objectives.  CityStrength produces an output – a prioritized set of recommendations that can be taken forward with the support of a variety of development institutions.


The CityStrength Diagnostic consists of 5 stages, book-ended by leadership commitment for resilience on the front-end and a longer-term engagement with development partners through financing or technical assistance at the back-end:

     1. The first stage focuses on collecting information and leveraging efforts that have already been undertaken in the city.  A review of all relevant studies, reports, or plans developed by the city, the World Bank, or other development partners is conducted. Key findings are summarized in order to brief participants during the launch workshop as well as external specialists supporting the diagnostic. Specific background studies or data collection initiatives can also be undertaken during this stage.

     2. The second stage is a launch workshop. The objectives of the workshop are to inform all participants about planned activities, put the interests and priorities of different stakeholders into a holistic framework of urban resilience, demonstrate commitment by high-level government officials so that technical staff are fully engaged throughout the diagnostic, and confirm the city’s main shocks and stresses.

     3. The third stage consists of interviews and field visits by specialists to better understand the challenges and opportunities in the city and to qualitatively measure how well key systems are performing in relation to the characteristics of resilience. This also gives city departments the opportunity to learn about each other’s work programs and ongoing resilience activities.

     4. The fourth stage is the prioritization of actions and investments to enhance resilience in the city. This is done using multiple “lenses” to identify the most important measures for city leaders to consider.  

While the ultimate goal of the CityStrength Diagnostic is to enhance the city’s long-term resilience, it is important to understand the nature of any immediate threats to people and assets (Lens 1). It is also crucial to understand dependencies and interdependencies within urban services and systems, which can cause cascading disruption or failure, or compound existing vulnerabilities (Lens 2). Thinking holistically (rather than sectorally) about the city’s resilience (Lens 3) is necessary to identify critical gaps or areas of weakness at the city scale. Finally, aligning recommended actions and investments with local goals and objectives (Lens 4) increases the likelihood that the recommendations will have sufficient stakeholder support to become a reality.

     5. The fifth stage is a meeting with local leadership to present the findings of the Diagnostic, share recommendations, and agree on priorities and next steps. After this, the team of specialists prepares a brief publication highlighting the findings of the CityStrength Diagnostic that can be used by the local government to facilitate communication with a broad set of internal and external stakeholders.

 For more information and resources, please visit:

Partners Mapping: 
Types of Shock/Stress Mapping: 
Scale Mapping: 
Target User Mapping: 
Data Input Mapping: 
Timeline for Application Mapping: