PPI Annual report.
What to do to regain the levels of 2012?
PPI Annual report.
Disaster risk management is a priority for many countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
Landing in Port-au-Prince awakens your senses. Exiting the airplane, you are re-energized by the explosion of colors, the welcoming smiles, and the warm weather – particularly when coming from a cold January in Washington, D.C. Loud honking, a high density of houses and buildings, and streets bustling with pedestrians and small informal businesses are all evidence of the rapid urbanization process in Haiti.
As soon as you land, the challenges of the city are evident; Port-au-Prince expands to the ocean on flat plains exposed to flooding and quickly rises on steep hills with challenging access and risks of landslides and flash floods. The reconstruction efforts after the earthquake in 2010 are still ongoing, and many of the houses seem to be hanging from the sky, perched on steep slopes. If you look at the houses from afar they appear as a single skyscraper, as distance makes the houses seem as if they are built on top of the one another. These false skyscrapers are highly exposed to landslides, flooding and earthquakes.
Imagine you live in a city that floods, sometime for weeks, after extreme rainfalls.
Imagine you live in that flooded city, where you and thousands of your neighbors must find a place to stay till the water has receded, and you finally can get back home, with the fear of finding it devastated.
The city of Trinidad is a place like this, located in Bolivia’s Amazonian low-lands, and with heavy prolonged precipitation, rivers, lagoons and lakes rise, affecting thousands of families.
Overall in Bolivia, 43% of the population lives in areas of high flood risk. Trinidad and other cities in the low-lands experience inundations, while in La Paz, Bolivia’s political center, frequent landslides lead to fatalities and damage to housing and infrastructure.
When you think of Peru, the first city that usually comes to mind is Lima. Why? Well, because Lima is the largest city in the country, with close to 50% of the nation’s urban population living in the metropolitan area; the city also produces 45% of Peru’s GDP. While this level of concentration of population and economic activity may not be a good or bad thing, it points to some imbalances in the urban system in Peru.
The first time I heard of the Bolivian city of Trinidad was exactly 11 months ago. Although Trinidad is the 10th largest city in Bolivia, I confess I did not know much about it. The Ministry of Development Planning (MPD) had commissioned the World Bank a study on intermediate cities in Bolivia, and in my early research I learned that this was a colonial city founded in 1686 during Jesuitic Missions. Similar in its architecture and climate to the southeastern cities of my native Venezuela, Trinidad is extremely vulnerable to flooding that affect thousands of families and businesses each year.
If you didn’t have an opportunity to purchase a safe, well-constructed home in a good location, what would you do? Live with relatives? Rent an apartment? Or, build a home in a less desirable, or potentially vulnerable area prone to natural disasters where you may not have clear property ownership but with the hope that one day you will become the owner officially? These are the decisions many families face in Peru, a middle income country with the third highest housing deficit in Latin America.
“Comuna 13 (one of the poorest areas in Medellin) has gone from being a marginalized community to being a resilient one. Many interventions that are being implemented for the youth and adults allow them to have a better life. All of this generates spaces where one can see that the transformation brings love, happiness, and liveliness, which all contribute to have a better future.” – Peter Alexander, Community Leader
If all you know about Medellín is its troubled past, you’re in for a surprise. Medellin has been known as a violent city not only in Latin America but throughout the world. During the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world and the epicenter of the global drug war. In 1993, Colombia's homicide rate was 420 per 100,000 – the highest in the world. Medellin witnessed 6,349 killings in 1991, a murder rate of 381 per 100,000 people.
My job brought me and my family to Lima, Peru 11 months ago. In case you have never visited Lima before, Lima is in many ways, a lovely city – it has fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean (you can surf right from the local beaches), great food, and vibrant neighborhoods, including a historic city center with Spanish architecture and churches. On the other hand, Lima is also know for its terrible traffic, unplanned urban growth, and informality.
As an urban development specialist, I can’t help but wonder how Lima could be better organized so residents can better enjoy all of the services and amenities the city has to offer. Is it possible?