Large disasters garner media attention, inspire action, and remain vivid in people's memory. But the suffering caused by urban disasters - such as flooding, landslides, earthquakes, often escapes media attention, in particular, the large death toll emerging from them in urban areas.
Disasters are often the consequence of natural hazards affecting vulnerable groups and marginalised communities, rendering evident the relation between urban fabric, vulnerabilities and risks. The social construction of such processes is at the centre of this sub-cluster which links diverse and multidisciplinary DPU research initiatives aiming to understand the institutional weaknesses and policy failures in addressing vulnerabilities and risks production and reproduction.
The sub-group examines urban disaster risk reduction policy and planning responses which go hand-in-hand with the aims of poverty reduction, and need to be linked to the achievement of a better standard of living for fast a growing number of urban dwellers, especially urban poor and marginalized communities.
Effective urban disaster risk management hinges on advocacy for risk awareness, vulnerability reduction, good governance, proper technical infrastructures, and the empowerment of all those who are at risk, with a specific emphasis on the built environment, planning and land regulation.
Our research focuses not only on the management of risks and effective disaster risk reduction but on the need to ensure that measures do not increase vulnerability in the medium to long-term, questioning critically the whole socio, political and economic apparatuses of risks and vulnerabilities production and reproduction in complex urban settings and efforts to promote equality, recognition and integration.
In the post-disaster setting there is a complex relationship between multiple actors involved in reconstruction and recovery, and difficult issues regarding land, planning housing and livelihood to be resolved. Most importantly a just or equitable recovery must put the needs of people affected at the centre of the decision-making process – something that becomes even more complex in urban situations.