This synthesis review was commissioned by DFID in order to review the quality of the evidence base and to outline knowledge gaps about the nature and scale of urban risk in low- and middle-income countries; and to assess the policy implications of this for humanitarian preparedness, planning and response. It does so by analysing a wide range of academic and policy literature and drawing on a number of interviews with key informants in the field. It particularly focuses on evidence from Africa and Asia, but also draws on case studies from Latin America as many examples of good practice in this area come from this region.The review aims to help ensure that DFID and other humanitarian and development actors are able to promote urban resilience and disaster risk reduction and to respond effectively to the humanitarian emergencies that are likely to occur in cities. The review is also intended to be used to inform discussion on a possible new research programme funded through the Humanitarian Evidence and Innovation Strategy at DFID.
The review was split into six sections. Following the introduction, the second section addresses the factors that affect the nature and scale of (disaster) risk in urban areas (with some attention to other sources of risk), the type of hazards that may cause risk and those who are most vulnerable. It analyses how multiple hazards and vulnerabilities can overlap to generate risk in cities and explores cities where risk has been built up over time due to a number of interconnecting factors. The third section, entitled 'the geographical distribution of risk', assesses how risk is mapped and measured and identifies cities that are at the greatest risk and those that have been given the greatest attention in the literature. The fourth section discusses the implications of different responses to urban (disaster) risk at a variety of scales, such as through community based initiatives and national agendas. The fifth section considers how research has been used to make projections about future risk, and the limitations of this, with the added complication of uncertainty from the risks cities face from the impacts of climate change. The sixth section looks at the policy and practice implications of the above on humanitarian preparedness, planning and response, and how the sector is currently addressing urban risk and the challenges it faces. The final section considers the key evidence gaps in the knowledge base for potential future research.
Dodman, D.; Francis, K.; Hardoy, J.; Johnson, C.; Satterthwaite, D. Understanding the nature and scale of urban risk in low- and middle-income countries and its implications for humanitarian preparedness, planning and response. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK (2012) 72 pp.