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India: How to help communities break the vicious "disaster-poverty" cycle

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Natural disasters push the near poor to below the poverty line & contribute to more persistent and severe poverty, creating poverty traps. Impacts on their livelihood pushes them further down the poverty line and as they own few assets it is very difficult for them to break this cycle.
Poor are caught up in and disaster-poverty vicious circle- are more likely to reside in hazardous locations and in substandard housing exposing them more to disasters. Poor households in disasters use harmful coping strategies, such as reducing expenditures on food, health, & education or increasing incomes by sending children to work.

Disasters due to natural hazards are just the tip of the iceberg in MENA cities

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Resilience is increasingly recognized as a key attribute of an effective urban system. Discussions on resilience often center around disasters caused by natural hazards. However, cities are increasingly exposed to multiple shocks and stresses beyond disasters. Cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are no different and are equally if not more vulnerable to a large set of shocks.

How can Bamako tackle urban and institutional fragmentation to become an engine of growth?

Anna Wellenstein's picture
 

Bamako, the capital of Mali, dominates the country’s urban and economic landscape – it is the nerve center of the national economy. Bamako has much to gain from becoming a productive and livable city. But currently it is far from that potential. The city is neither an engine of growth, nor of service delivery. Its urban development has been fragmented, fettering both - productivity, by preventing opportunities for matching people and jobs - and livability, by driving up the costs of urban infrastructure and service delivery.  If the urban form of the city continues to grow in an unplanned, spatially fragmented way, Bamako and its citizens will be locked into economically and socially unproductive urbanization. Tackling urban development challenges in the capital will have knock-on effects on Mali’s economic development.

Building back stronger, faster, and more inclusively

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Disasters caused by natural hazards result in average annual welfare losses of over US$500 billion and push up to 26 million people into poverty each year.  Some of these negative consequences are due to recovery that is not resilient, takes too long and is not equitable.  According to the Building Back Better report, this can be mitigated by building back stronger, faster and more inclusively following a disaster.

The 3 challenges in building urban resilience in Freetown

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Quantifying public spaces for better quality of urban assets

Hyunji Lee's picture
Photo by Hyunji Lee / World Bank

A stage is now ready for public urban spaces.
 
“By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities” – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11.7
 
The importance of public space is highlighted in international agendas, and diverse organizations started piloting the role of urban planning and public spaces in cities.


For instance,  UN Women launched the Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces report, which enhanced public spaces designs with better lighting and CCTVs to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women. There are more onboard, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on sustainable forestry  and the World Health Organization (WHO) on green spaces and health. The World Bank has also committed to enhancing public spaces across cities including Karachi, Chongqing, and Dhaka.

To realize these collective efforts, better measurement tools are vital to follow up with evidence-based approaches. On July 11th, 2018, UN-HABITAT and ISOCARP held a side event during the High-Level Political Forum at the UN, titled “Quantifying the Commons.” While speakers from various organizations including the World Bank presented their works, three key questions were raised regarding our future steps:

How to capture public life in public spaces?

Fen Wei's picture
Photo credit: Lois Goh/ World Bank
Urbanization and economic growth go hand in hand.  Cities are turning into centers of attraction in developing countries and their population is rising constantly. In such cities, we often see in a city a mix of old and new, slow and fast: Street vendors hawking their wares by luxury shopping malls; highways segmentizing parks and walkways; high-rise crowding out traditional neighborhoods, etc. However, we do not often see a well-balanced mix that serves all urban dwellers with a wide array of needs, economically and socially.
 
What are the ingredients of a good urban life, or rather, what does it take for a city to make the public happy? The answer to this is multifaceted. Cities need to be accessible, vibrant, and create safe public spaces to meet public needs.
 
As UN-Habitat’s Charter of Public Space states, public spaces are a key element of individual and social well-being, the places of a community’s collective life, particularly in situations of poverty and limited public resources, such as those in the developing countries. The Charter also highlights that participation of citizens and in particular of communities of residents is of crucial importance for the maintenance and management of public spaces. While there might be no objection to this statement, it is also true that it has been easily overlooked, especially in developing countries, for the sake of “economic efficiency.”

Transforming urban waterfronts

Fen Wei's picture
HafenCity, Hamburg. Photo Credit: ELBE&FLUT / Thomas Hampel at http://www.hafencity.com
HafenCity, Hamburg.
Photo Credit: ELBE&FLUT / Thomas Hampel at http://www.hafencity.com
“The waterfront isn’t just something unto itself. It’s connected to everything else,” said Jane Jacobs, a prominent urbanist.
 
This connection is twofold; it refers to the relationship between cities and their waterfronts – as ever-changing as cities themselves.
 
Evolving from its past definition during the industrial era as a city’s service yard, the urban waterfront has, in recent decades, taken on new meanings.

On one hand, the waterfront is playing a more significant role in transforming the urban fabric of a city or even reshaping a city’s identity.
 
On the other hand, successful urban waterfronts have also demonstrated how city resources – such as available land, cleaner water, historic preservation, and urban revitalization – can be unlocked and realized, and how these elements can be integrated into the city and public life.
 
[Read: Regenerating Urban Land: A Practitioner's Guide to Leveraging Private Investment]

There are otters in the city

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Photo by budak via Flickr CC

When a family of 10 smooth-coated otters appeared in Singapore’s urban downtown of Marina Bay last year, the city was ablaze with excitement and delight. Who would have thought that these otters would make a dense urban environment like Singapore home? After all, otters were thought to have vanished in the 1970s as Singapore rapidly developed into a dense metropolis.
 
Was this a fad? Probably. Was this a big deal? Absolutely. In a small city-state where land is considered a scarce resource, the tension between urban development and biodiversity conservation can be very pronounced. This was not the case in Singapore. Between 1986 and 2010, as Singapore’s urban population doubled from 2.7 to 5 million, its green cover also increased from 36% to 50%, all within the confines of just 710 square kilometers. The increase in green cover in urbanized Singapore was seen as a sign that the efforts by the urban planning agency, parks and water management boards had paid off, and a testament that the natural environment could be indeed be integrated effectively into the urban fabric of the city.
 
Today is World Environment Day. This year, it celebrates the theme of “connecting people to nature,” and invites us to think about how we are part of nature—and how intimately we depend on it.

How can green growth benefit Africa?

Eun Joo Allison Yi's picture
Photo: Sarah Farhat/World Bank Group


What exactly do we mean by green growth? For us, it’s not just about riding bikes and planting trees. The Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF) defines green growth as adopting an innovative approach toward reaching nations’ goals for sustainable development and addressing climate change. It is a framework for decision-making and a proven process for turning people’s hopes into reality.


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