Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
Making development sustainable: The future of disaster risk management

background image
Part III - Chapter 11
The incapacity of most low-income and some middle-income countries to provide safely located land for low-income households means that the growth of informal settlements may continue to be the dominant model through which people without access to formal land and housing markets resolve their housing needs. Despite the large number of studies and publications on urban risk and the rapid expansion of urban areas, interest and investment in urban poverty and risk reduction have only recently reached significant levels on the international stage (Satterthwaite and Mitlin, 2014

Satterthwaite, David and Diana Mitlin. 2014,Reducing Urban Poverty in the Global South, USA and Canada: Routledge Publishing.. .
In all income geographies, one can find notable exceptions of well-governed cities that have managed to provide infrastructure and services for their inhabitants. There have also been numerous projects with international support, such as the provision of electricity to slum dwellers in Mumbai and Ahmedabad in India (World Bank and ESMAP, 2011

World Bank and ESMAP (Energy Sector Management Assistance Program). 2011,Improving Energy Access to the Urban Poor in Developing Countries, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.. .
) and the improvement of sewerage systems for the urban poor in Viet Nam (World Bank and Australian Aid, 2013

World Bank and Australian Aid. 2013,Socialist Republic of Vietnam Performance of the Wastewater Sector in Urban Areas: A Review and Recommendations for Improvement, Vietnam Urban Wastewater Review. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.. .
). However, it is highly likely that new urban growth in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and other regions will tend to magnify and exacerbate disaster risks (Mitlin and Satterthwaite, 2013

Mitlin, Diana and David Satterthwaite. 2013,Urban Poverty in the Global South, Scale and Nature. USA and Canada: Routledge Publishing.. .
Ultimately, the capacity of cities to manage their disaster risks depends on their quality of governance. Some of the most promising developments in recent years are the cases of cities that have been able to regain control of their planning and management and to strengthen their urban governance through innovative partnerships between local governments, households and communities. For example, in Medellin and Bogota in Colombia, innovative urban governance was able to dramatically reduce crime, improve transport and the provision of services, and enhance the quality of urban living in general.
Through integrated urban projects, the city of Medellin undertook large-scale investments to
provide public services to informal settlements on the hills surrounding the city, particularly transport, education, housing and green space. These were presented as an investment in the city as a whole, stressing solidarity and the need to reduce inequality and promote opportunity. One key element of this initiative was the municipality’s ability to work with civil society organizations, which had a presence in, knowledge of and legitimacy in their neighbourhoods. A metro and cable car transportation system was built, enabling citizens in informal hillside settlements to travel to work or accomplish other business in a matter of minutes, whereas previously the same journey took hours. Green spaces and bicycle lanes were built throughout the city. New “library parks”—a combination of a public library, park, and community centre with architecturally attractive structures—serve the purposes of education, recreation and social cohesion, as well as being major tourist attractions. In Medellin, homicide rates went down from 381 per 100,000 people in 1991 to only 29 in 2007.15 In parallel, both Bogota and Medellin made major investments in assessing and reducing disaster risk.
The experience of these and other cities shows that probably the single most important factor in addressing urban risk is to strengthen urban governance in a way that involves and empowers citizens and builds partnerships with civil society and the private sector. In contrast, stand-alone technical interventions to retrofit schools or hospitals are unlikely to be sustainable and may quite literally drown in a rising tide of risk.
Effective urban governance will have to recognize the direct relationship between functioning infrastructure, environmental sustainability, productivity, equity and quality of life. By extension, this means that the social and environmental drivers of disaster risk will also have to be taken into account.
Previous page Previous Section  
Contact us  |  Disclaimer  |  Our Partners  |  References  |  Acknowledgements  |  PreventionWeb |  WCDRR  |  © United Nations 2015.