Water Week

EWN Publishing

Life in cities really is getting more dangerous: number of natural disasters affecting urban populations in four-fold rise since 1975

Posted by waterweek on 9 October 2007

It isn’t just an urban myth: life in the city really was getting more dangerous, and the sources of peril are not just human ones like muggers and reckless motorists. A re­port by UN-Habitat, an agency responsible for human settlements, said the number of natural disasters affecting urban popu­lations had risen four-fold since 1975, reported The Economist (6/10/2007, p. 59).

World Bank eyes prevention and preparation strategy: The World Bank has recently started to focus more on avoiding disasters, rather than just helping to respond to them. There is more awareness that disaster-prone projects—such as dams which could burst—are worse than a waste of money. Given that events like earthquakes and tsunamis cannot be escaped, the bank is also doing more to help poor countries prepare for the worst.

Many national economies rely on sole major city: There are economic reasons for this, as well as humanitarian ones. Many vulnerable cities are big con­tributors to the surrounding country’s GDP – so an urban disaster could wreck an entire national economy. These include Tehran (which produces 40% of national GDP), Dhaka (60%), Mexico City (40%), Seoul (50%) and Cairo (50%).

The Economist, 6/10/2007, p. 59

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