|Cities At Risk - Making Cities Safer ... Before Disaster Strikes (IDNDR-DIRDN, 1996)|
|Part Two: What Is Being Done?|
Part Two contains recent examples of how communities are making them selves safer from disasters. The case examples show progress in a rapidly evolving field. Solutions to protect cities from disasters are available. Little information is readily available, however, on how communities are applying them. This report focuses on bridging that gap. The examples come from all corners of the globe, and touch upon a variety of disasters facing urban areas. Building techniques, community cleanup campaigns, emergency management plans, construction of embankments, resettlement programmes, designation of "green" areas, economic surveys of vulnerable groups - these and other solutions (both structural and non-structural) are highlighted in the pages ahead. Some are success stories. Others are success stories in the making. Together, the stories form a portrait of an evolving field, in which communities are taking a stronger role in determining their own fate.
The portrait gives both hope and concern. Hope, because these examples show how many communities believe that "prevention pays" and invest in it. Concern, because there are still not enough actions to reverse the negative global trends that lead to increased disaster risk.
If cities are becoming more vulnerable to disasters almost by the day, then why aren't more people addressing this issue? It is a new concept, which has taken root in the last half of this century, that man need not be fatalistic about disasters. It is also a new phenomenon that the pace and scale of environmental degradation, rapid population growth and urbanization increase disaster risk. It will take time until all communities realize these facts, and only then can they take action.
But there are other reasons. Local authorities have limited control over urban expansion. Urban areas are growing so fast that authorities have difficulty in providing basic minimum services. With scarce resources, disaster threats are just one of a panoply of urgent problems facing city authorities.
Yet the way a city develops determines whether disaster risks will rise or fall. If urban risk assessments are used to guide future development projects, development investments will become more sustainable. Even with only limited additional resources, urban managers can considerably reduce risk profiles of their cities.
Search for Case Examples - Selection Criteria
The following criteria were used in the research for this report to gather and write the case examples of Part Two.
· "Prevention pays" measures. Solutions to root causes of urban vulnerability (such as settling in hazardous areas); design or construction improvements to make buildings safer against unavoidable hazards; establishing emergency plans that work...
· Universality. A mosaic of examples, with different elements for urban areas to select and adapt to local social, economic and political circumstances.
· Success indicators. Projects at least partially implemented and tested, with measurable results. Examples: less frequent disasters; lives or property saved; professional awards or recognition; adoption of similar measures among more groups in the same community, or in neighbouring countries; changed attitudes among political leaders and/or community members.
· Cost-effectiveness. Preference for examples showing local improvement, relative to the time, money and people involved. Measures were discarded which seemed too expensive for cities in developing countries.
· Partnerships. Preference for projects coordinated with different parts or professions in the community, rather than isolated projects (hence less sustainable over time).
· Community-based solutions. Positive "can-do" approach, led by city residents, with evidence of consensus-building. National or international partners are included where their role is an enabling one.
· Diversity of natural disasters affecting urban areas. Floods, earthquakes, landslides, fires, tropical storms and volcanic eruptions are covered. Stories on floods, the most frequent urban disaster, are more numerous.
· Geographic spread. Cross-section of countries and world regions.
· Cross-section of measures carried out in disaster and development phases. Emphasis on prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures, preferably as part of city development programmes, before a potential disaster. The search was consequently broadened to measures in the reconstruction phase that lessen the impact or prevent future disasters. One example from the relief phase is included, as its success clearly derived from a well-prepared community. Studiously avoided are references to successful logistical relief and recovery that do not fulfill other criteria listed above.