Disaster Risk Tied to Urban Growth

Two reports have linked patterns of urban development to disaster risk. As urban populations grow, these studies suggest developing countries will become even more vulnerable.
May 19, 2009, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Smaller or poorer countries can be devastated by disasters that are relatively inconsequential in places shielded by size or wealth, said one of the reports, a United Nations study that is being released Sunday in Bahrain.

That study, the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, compared the impact of cyclones in the Philippines and Japan, for example. While more people in Japan are exposed to cyclones, the estimated annual death toll from such storms is 17 times higher in the Philippines, the study said.

...The other study, conducted by the Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction, a coalition of private nongovernmental groups, notes some isolated examples where communities acting on their own have found ways to reduce disaster losses. But it warned that many governments were lagging in efforts to make such resilience the norm, not the exception, despite having pledged to do so in a declaration in 2005.

The United Nations report is the most ambitious effort ever to compare data on all kinds and scales of disasters against population and economic trends, development and disaster experts said."

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Published on Saturday, May 16, 2009 in The New York Times
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