Cover Image
close this bookAn Overview of Disaster Management (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1992, 136 p.)
close this folderChapter 1. Introduction to disasters
close this folderCausal factors of disasters
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPoverty
View the documentPopulation growth
View the documentRapid urbanization
View the documentTransitions in cultural practices
View the documentEnvironmental degradation
View the documentLack of awareness and information
View the documentWar and civil strife

Rapid urbanization

Rapid population growth and migration are related to the major phenomenon of rapid urbanization. This process is also accelerated in developing countries. It is characterized by the rural poor or civilians in an area of conflict moving to metropolitan areas in search of economic opportunities and security. These massive numbers of urban poor increasingly find fewer options for availability of safe and desirable places to build their houses. Here again, competition for scarce resources, an inevitable consequence of rapid urbanization, can lead to human-made disasters.

Figure 1.3 Population projections for some disaster-prone cities.

Many landslides or flooding disasters are closely linked to rapid and unchecked urbanization which forces low-income families to settle on the slopes of steep hillsides or ravines, or along the banks of flood-prone rivers. Many earthquake victims in urban areas have been impoverished families whose sites have failed rather than their houses, usually through landslides onto the house or out from under it.

Figure 1.4 As population continues to grow, settlements spread to marginal and even unsafe areas.