RESPONDING TO URBAN DISASTERS
According to the United Nations, the world’s population first became more urban than rural between 2007 and 2008 – withmore than 50% of the world’s people now living in urban areas. As Figure 1 illustrates, much of the increase in urban populations over the coming years will be in less developed regions
,because of natural population growth and rural-to-urban migration.This shift is more than a transmission of population from one place to another – it is also involves a transformation oflives and livelihoods. Cities and urban centres are highly diverse in terms of the forms they take, the social and politicalstructures that emerge within them, and the range of needs and interests of their constituent communities. This varietyis as marked within as across different urban centres: there may be as much variety
Dhaka and Delhi respectivelyas there is
them.Urban centres are typically strongly interconnected with peri-urban and rural areas within nations and regions, throughcommon markets or trade links, and with wider globalised communities through remittances. Urban populations are verydynamic, with high rates of migration in and out of urban centres. Urban economies reflect this interconnectedness anddiversity, and often making a vital contribution to the national economy. As a result of all of this diversity, interconnectedness and size, urban governance often requires sophisticated social andpolitical mechanisms. Effective urban governance draws on both formal and informal processes, and requires engagementof a broad range of stakeholders from local to national levels.Of particular interest to the constituencies of ALNAP and Provention is how these shifts impacts on the need for and contextof humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction work. As urban growth continues unabated in many parts of the world, the vulnerability of those living in urban areas is also increasing. This is for two main reasons: failure to address
The UN Population Division categorises less developed regions as all regions of Africa, Asia (excluding Japan),Latin America and the Caribbean plus Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
More developed regions, urban populationLess developed regions, rural populationLess developed regions, urban populationMore developed regions, rural population
Figure 1. Urban and rural populations, by development group, 1950–2050