ELLA Guide: Urban Disaster Risk Management in Latin American Cities


Latin America is the most urbanised region in the world where serious problems of poverty and inequality persist. A total of 111 million urban dwellers live in informal settlements that are highly vulnerable to disasters. What is more, 80% of the impacts of disasters in the region are felt in the cities, affecting the poorest populations hardest. This Guide begins by describing the complex interaction between processes of urbanisation and natural hazards that generate and intensify disaster risk in Latin America. It then provides a panorama of the evolution of urban disaster risk management in the region, including examples of key achievements towards building more resilient cities. The Guide assesses which contextual factors have enabled these successes and draws out the main lessons to be considered in other regions. Finally, it presents key publications and organisations to link readers to additional resources to learn more.

Key Lessons:

The relationship between urban poverty and disaster risk is conditioned by the capacity of city and local governments to plan and regulate urban development using disaster risk management approaches.

By incorporating DRM into urban planning, governments can promote equitable urbanisation processes that reduce vulnerability and contribute to sustainable development goals.

Resettlement programmes are probably the most complex examples of urban risk management in Latin America given that they include components of land planning, information, training and regulation.


Watanabe, M. ELLA Guide: Urban Disaster Risk Management in Latin American Cities. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 13 pp.

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