Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Current issue: Understanding the full spectrum of risk in urban areas

This issue of Environment and Urbanization is on the full spectrum of risk in urban areas of the global South and their contribution to premature death, serious injury, illness or impoverishment. The papers show the large spectrum of risks from infectious and parasitic diseases, pollution and physical hazards. “Small” disasters and every-day hazards that often receive less attention than disasters actually pose greater risks, especially among low-income groups and those living in informal settlements. City-specific studies in this issue explore the nature and measurement of local risks, in Karonga, Malawi; Niamey, Niger; Bandung, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand; and Nairobi, Kenya. The issue also includes papers that interrogate the concept of risk resilience, calling for greater attention to rights, justice, and concrete community-led action. The papers propose new directions for classifying and collecting information on risks, which is the first step towards reducing risks for the most vulnerable urban residents. Several of these papers emerged from Urban Africa: Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK), a research and capacity-building programme seeking to reduce risk in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

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Book notes

With the Syrian conflict now in its seventh year, 13.5 million Syrians need humanitarian aid. But aid in northern Syria focuses inflexibly on food kits that are expensive to administer, designed to satisfy short-term needs. Many people sell their food aid to pay for other urgent needs. This undermines local producers and distorts local markets, especially since over half the food comes from outside Syria. Yet, city economies are shifting towards small and micro businesses that trade locally and help people cope with the risks of prolonged conflict.

Urban Environments in Africa attempts to fill what Garth Myers argues is a gap in scholarship: marrying environmental and urban studies in African contexts. The book mainly discusses cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants, all the way up to the megacities Cairo and Lagos. It covers a range of cities from across the continent, while recognizing the diversity of this range. And it adopts urban political ecology as its theoretical framework, attempting to build on a tradition of rural political ecology in Africa.

Latest blogs

While welcoming the support from Michael Bloomberg for a new city-focused global public health initiative, David Satterthwaite and Sarah Colenbrander raise concerns about what is not included.
Urban centres can be among the world's most healthy places to live and work – but many are among the least. How healthy they are is powerfully influenced by local government competence, local information, and support for local action.
For the billion urban dwellers living in informal settlements, there are many risks. Those who are more susceptible to these risks, or less able to cope, are termed vulnerable. But they are not vulnerable if the risks are removed. We need to focus more on removing the risks and less on endless lists of 'vulnerable groups', argues David Satterthwaite.

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E&U's sister journal  Medio Ambiente y Urbanizacion focusses on Latin America

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