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URBAN ENVIRONMENT | environmental degradation, hazards & pollution

This cluster emphasises ways to combat environmental degradation and pollution hazards, including innovative technical, social and community-based responses to water, sanitation and waste disposal, industrial and urban energy pollution, together with public health protection and hazard reduction measures.

quick links

local level city level
  international level websites

local level

Dinham, Barbara & Satinath Sarang (2002) - "The Bhopal gas tragedy 1984 to ? The evasion of corporate responsibility" Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1, April 2002 - IIED - [pdf]

India - This paper describes the inadequacies in the response of the Union Carbide Corporation to the accidental release of the highly toxic gas, methyl isocyanate, from its plant in Bhopal, India in 1984. Over 20,000 people are estimated to have died from exposure to this gas since 1984, with some 120,000 chronically ill survivors. The corporation has always sought to underplay the health effects and has refused to release its research on the health impacts of the gas (which could have helped develop more effective treatment). This paper describes the work of the Sambhavna Trust, a charitable body set up to work with the survivors, and its programme to develop simple, more effective, ethical and participatory ways of carrying out research, monitoring and treatment. Its programmes combine traditional and western systems for health care and it ensures that individuals and communities are actively involved in all aspects of public health.

city level

Arrossi, Silvina (1996) - "Inequality and health in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 8, No. 2, October 1996, IIED [pdf]

Argentina - This paper describes differences in unsatisfied basic needs and in mortality rates by age group for the 20 districts which make up the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. It also describes differences in causes of death by age group between the central city (Capital Federal) and the inner and outer ring of municipalities that surround it. The paper ends with a discussion of why it is important to develop a more detailed statistical picture of health differences between districts in cities and examines also the difficulties in doing so.

Hunt, Caroline (1996) - "Child waste pickers in India: the occupation and its health risks"- Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 8, No. 2, October 1996 - IIED [pdf]

India-This paper describes the health risks to which waste pickers are exposed in their work (and often in their homes). It then presents the findings of a study on the health problems of a group of 100 children living in informal settlements in Bangalore (India) in which the health problems of those who work as waste pickers were compared to those who do not.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Station of purification of the worn-out waters, Al Hoceima City - UN-Habitat / Best Practice [pdf]

Morocco - Urban agglomerations are a source of pollution, including its transfer and its dismissal. The direct sewage tipping in the sea without any previous treatment constitutes a potential threat, for zones of bathing, for the aquatic life, capable thereafter to affect conditions of hygiene seriously within the same agglomeration. To face this situation, it became very urgent to put in place a system that can stop the propagation of the problem before it affects others zone.

UN-Habitat (1998) - Biotechnical use of the fraction organic of urban residuals, San Luis - UN-Habitat / Best Practice [pdf]

Argentina - This project aims at satisfying a growing demand: to solve the problem of the final disposition of the urban solid waste, by means of the recycling of the inerts that have some value in the market, and the transformation of the biodegradable organic matter into a organic biological fertilizer, and thus eliminating the complex problem of environmental pollution and allowing the clean inert materials to recycle.

UN-Habitat (2002) - The Urban Drainage System Project of Quanzhou - UN-Habitat / Best Practice [pdf]

China - The purpose of the Urban Drainage System project was to improve the quality and sustainability of the urban environment. The method applied is that of detaining floodwaters with appropriate drainage facilities. The implementation of the project solved the long-standing problem of water logging in urban Quanzhou thus ensuring a safer and healthier environment for the urban population as well as improving the ecological conditions of the inner city zone.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Men Recycling Papers and their Social Roles, Florianopolis -UN-Habitat / Best Practice [pdf]

Brazil - The company Terra Fine Papers, has been participating for 10 years in the new industrial revolution. The plan consists of valorization of the renewable resources, productivity of resources, and an echo-strategy where the business responsibility in the environmental administration is a voluntary activity.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Technical management of the impregnated residuals of hydrocarbons, Bogota - UN-Habitat / Best Practice [pdf]

Colombia - Our project is dedicated to handling, use and recovery of hydrocarbons spread in the water and floors; we have developed programs that use appropriate technologies, adaptive to industries' needs and trade, they can also be applied in any city in a short time, with low costs.

international level

Kamanga, L Bull et al. (2003) - "From everyday hazards to disasters: the accumulation of risk in urban areas"- Environment & Urbanization, Vol 15 No 1, April 2003 - IIED [pdf]

This paper summarizes the discussions from a workshop funded by UNDP on the links between disasters and urban development in Africa, highlighting the underestimation of the number and scale of urban disasters, and the lack of attention to the role of urban governance. It notes the difficulties in getting action in Africa, since the region’s problems are still perceived as “rural” by disaster and development specialists, even though two-fifths of its population live in urban areas. It emphasizes the need for an understanding of
risk that encompasses events ranging from disasters to everyday hazards and which understands the linkages between them – in particular, how identifying and acting on risks from “small” disasters can reduce risks from larger ones. It also stresses the importance of integrating such an understanding into poverty reduction strategies.

Stephens, Carolyn (1996) - "Healthy cities or unhealthy islands? The health and social implications of urban inequality" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 8 No. 2, October 1996 - IIED [pdf]

This paper suggests that governments and international
agencies must address the large and often growing levels
of inequality within most cities if health is to be improved and
poverty reduced. It describes the social and health implications
of inequalities within cities and discusses why descriptions of
the physical symptoms of poverty (and their health implications)
are more common than analyses of the structural systems which
produce and perpetuate poverty. It also describes the health problems
from which low-income groups in urban areas suffer more
than richer groups including those that are not linked to poor
sanitary conditions and those that are more linked to relative
poverty (and thus the level of inequality) than to absolute poverty.




Documents highlighting DFID's published work in the field of fighting environmental degradation, hazards and pollution in urban areas.

"Cities for Climate Protection" - Allen, Adriana; Nicholas You (2002) – Sustainable Urbanisation: Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas – DPU [pdf]

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection
Campaign (CCP) was launched in 1993, and has
united more than 400 local governments in their
efforts to cut the local GHG emissions that contribute
to global warming and air pollution. Collectively,
these 400 cities and towns account for approximately
8% of global emissions. In Europe, more than 100
local governments participate in the CCP Campaign with national campaigns underway in Finland, Italy and the United Kingdom.

"Minimising Waste, Disseminating Experience " - Ibid. [pdf]

India-The long-held belief that pollution is an inevitable by product of industrial development is no longer valid. A project called DESIRE, carried out in India between 1993 and 1995 for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), has shown that enterprises can realise both financial and environmental benefits from cleaner industrial production. The initiative not only worked
to minimise waste, but also led to the dissemination of the experience gained in participating factories throughout their wider industrial sectors, in India and beyond.

"Going public on polluters" - Ibid. [pdf]

Indonesia-There is much debate on how best to get companies to comply with environmental regulations and raise community participation in pollution control. Launched in 1995 by Indonesia's Pollution Control
Agency (BAPEDAL), the PROPER programme tackles
this challenge through the simple idea that public
disclosure of environmental performance will reward
companies that meet high environmental standards
through good publicity, while exposing those below
standards to the scrutiny of the public and the media

"Phasing out Polluting Fuels in Manila" - Ibid. [pdf]

Philippines-The Manila Lead-Free Coalition has evolved in the space of two years from a local campaign to phase out the use of polluting leaded fuel in the city to a nationwide Partnership for Clean Air, covering the entire range of clean air issues. Its sustained campaign for raising public awareness to smoke belching has emphasised the links between urban energy use,
pollution, health, and even global climate trends. Air pollution in Metro Manila is among the worst in
the world.


2003 Development Planning Unit | Sikandar Hasan | Anna Soave | Khanh Tran-Thanh || Tina Simon