Urban humanitarian crises (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1093)
Where and why are urban humanitarian crises happening? What analysis is available on future trends in relation to urban crises?
Where and why are urban humanitarian crises happening? What analysis is available regarding future trends in relation to urban crises and how robust are these?
The degree to which a city is vulnerable to humanitarian crises depends on location-specific physical, social, economic and environmental factors. The literature suggests that geographically, cities in Asia are the most vulnerable to natural disasters. Asian cities also experience the most diverse range of natural disasters. Causes of urban vulnerability include: physical location; poor infrastructure; overcrowding and poor sanitation facilities; strategic importance; and radicalisation.
There is widespread concern that climate change will increase the number and severity of urban humanitarian crises in the future. Increased food and water shortages in urban areas – a result of droughts caused by rising temperatures – are also predicted. Conflict over resources could lead to increased risk of armed conflict. The nature of conflict is also likely to change, with new forms of conflict, such as urban violence, becoming increasingly prevalent. Rapid population growth is likely to result in an increase in the number of epidemics in urban areas, due to overcrowding and poor sanitation in informal settlements.
Strachan, A.L. Urban humanitarian crises (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1093). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 8 pp.