Humanitarian crises and the city

1. The urban sphere is part of the fabric of humanitarian crises

War rages in Syria. The earth heaves in Ecuador. Ebola spreads in West Africa. As we try to make sense of these events and struggle with how to address them, how many of us consider urban planning and policies as part of the solution? The humanitarian impacts of disasters, both natural and man-made, are increasingly concentrated in cities. They include not only massive loss of life and injuries but also damage to critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and water and electricity supply networks. Given the deeply interconnected nature of cities, the impact can also multiply much faster than in less populated areas. The striking reality is that Ebola became a world-threatening epidemic only when it reached the urban space. In armed conflicts or situations of urban violence, city dwellers lack access to key services, such as health, education, or water, and this is a major cause of humanitarian suffering and displacement. Waste management, land and housing regulations, urban services and community organization are all tools that are critical for crisis management, yet they are frequently overlooked by both urban authorities and humanitarian organizations.

Source: International Red Cros and Red Crescent Movement

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

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