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

Since the majority of urban displaced live in informal settlements or in rental accommodation without formal lease agreements, tenure insecurity – the risk of forced eviction – is a defining feature of their lives. Finding housing solutions in emergencies in large cities is extremely complex.

Across the Middle East and North Africa, water utilities are increasingly struggling to maintain services during protracted conflicts. To become more resilient, they need to tackle long-standing vulnerabilities that let the impacts of conflicts accumulate. However, many have increased their dependency on external help, particularly on humanitarian and development aid. In many cases, international agencies have had to continue playing a substitution role over long periods, while their supporting activities have remained limited.

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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Sister journal

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

E & U Latin America