Achieving Urban Resilience: Understanding and Tackling Disasters from a Local Perspective

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The damage caused by a dramatic worldwide increase in
so-called natural disasters is staggering, with the poor in
developing countries being most at risk. This paper analyses:
(a) the key variables and their causal relations that
underlie the complex system of risk and disaster occurrence
in slums; (b) the impacts of disasters on slums; (c)
the strategies used by local people to cope with risk and
disasters; and (d) the reasons for weak coping. The views
and knowledge of slum dwellers in El Salvador are the
focus of this analysis. On this basis, fi ve complementary
ex ante risk-reduction measures have been identifi ed
and developed to match local needs, capacities and
dimensions of risk—hazard reduction (or prevention),
mitigation, preparedness, risk ‘fi nancing’ and stand-by for
recovery. The complementary measures provide a frame
of reference that allows urban development actors to
systematically search for and design potential risk
reduction measures. It is concluded that keeping these
measures compartmentalised and separate from each
other during planning and implementation of urban
development programmes helps ensure both sustainable
poverty reduction and urban resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Building Technologies
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Other Civil Engineering


  • disaster
  • coping strategy


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