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Sustainable Communities

Risk models and storytelling – learning from past disasters for a more resilient future

Emma Phillips's picture



In the early afternoon of September 3, 1930, the San Zenon Hurricane struck Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. With winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, one of the deadliest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic pummeled the coastal city, destroying entire neighborhoods and claiming the lives of as many as 8,000 people.
 
What would happen if a hurricane of a similar magnitude hit Santo Domingo today? Nearly 90 years on, only the oldest Dominicans have any direct recollection of the devastation. For most residents of present-day Santo Domingo, the consequences of another cataclysmic hurricane making landfall near their city are hard to imagine.
 
Be it hurricanes like San Zenon or volcanic eruptions such as that of Mount Vesuvius, analyzing natural events that led to the major disasters of yesteryear can help us get a fuller grasp of how similar events might impact today’s more populous, urbanized, and connected world. 

How to define a metro area?

Mark Roberts's picture
How would you define the area of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta?
 
a: Simply using the administrative boundaries of the Special Capital Region of Jakarta?
b: Based on the extent and density of population?
c: Using nighttime lights data?
d: Or, what about a definition based on commuting flows as used in the U.S. approach to defining metropolitan statistical areas?
 
Image: World Bank
a. Administrative boundaries
Image: World Bank
b. High-density population cluster
Image: World Bank
c. Brightly-lit urban area
Image: World Bank
d. Strength of commuting flows
Globally, a growing number of cities spill across their administrative boundaries, meaning that many urban issues now need to be addressed at a metropolitan level. However, to do this, it is first necessary to delineate the “true” extent of a metro area. How else, after all, will policymakers be able to identify which local governments need to work together to provide transport and other essential public services?

Join us on the geospatial way to a better world

Wael Zakout's picture
Kris Krüg Flickr CC

Disruptive technology, supported by location-based – or “geospatial” – databases, is on track to change our lives, transform economies, and shake up big and small businesses. In fact, this is already happening in cities and communities around the world, thanks to fast-developing mobile technology and the growing speed of mobile communications.

For example, a Cairo-based startup called “Swvl” is disrupting commuting in the In the Middle East and North Africa region by mapping out commuters’ travel directions and enabling app-based, affordable bus rides that can compete with on-demand ride-hailing.

What cities can learn from New York City on disability inclusion

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo's picture
Image: World Bank

How do we build inclusive cities for all?

This is a question that cities around the world are trying to answer, as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development advances disability-inclusive development – and makes a strong case for more sector-specific programming that is inclusive of persons with disabilities and leaves no one behind.

New York City is leading by example to ensure that the voices of persons with disabilities are represented.

A new Good Practice Note for development professionals on mitigation and prevention of gender-based violence

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Kicking off 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25 – December 10), we focus in this video blog on the significant economic and social costs of violence.
 
World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, Caren Grown (@CarenGrown), and Director for Social Development, Maninder Gill (@ManinderSGill), discuss with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director for Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience, a new Good Practice Note created to help World Bank staff and partners identify gender-based violence risks – particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment – in projects with major civil works contracts. This note helps project teams to assess the risks of gender-based violence, address these risks through mitigation and monitoring, and respond to any identified gender-based violence incidents.  
This adds to other World Bank resources, including the Violence Against Women And Girls Resource Guide which offers guidance for development projects along with strategies for policies and legislation.
 
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Medellin Lab 2.0: Sharing knowledge on urban transformation

Philip E. Karp's picture
 


Medellin represents a remarkable story of urban transformation. 
 
At one point, it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. From 1990 to 1993, more than 6,000 people were murdered annually.  Drive-by shootings were regular and indiscriminate, stemming from warfare between gang lords, drug criminals, and para-military groups.  The need for change was urgent and led to radical urban experimentation.
 
The city’s political and business leaders recognized that Medellín’s security issues could not be dealt with through policy measures alone. They initiated a series of radical programs to reshape the social fabric of the city’s neighborhoods and to mobilize the poor. 
 
City planners began addressing the problem of endemic violence and inequity through the design of public spaces, transit infrastructure and urban interventions into marginalized neighborhoods.  Key to their approach was a commitment to making the public realm a truly shared space, and a faith that they could transform Medellín’s public spaces from sites of segregation and warfare into spaces where communities would come together. 

Resilient schools, resilient communities: Improving education infrastructure for Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 


Across the globe, more than 20 million children from conflict-affected countries are out of school. Missing out on schooling opportunities severely compromises the future of displaced individuals, who have left everything behind to escape conflict and violence.

Take Syrian refugees in Turkey, the country that hosts more individuals fleeing from armed conflict than any other in the world. Turkey has welcomed nearly 3.6 million of the 5.7 million externally displaced individuals as a result of the protracted crisis in Syria. Almost one-third of these people are of school age.

Resilient housing joins the machine learning revolution

Sarah Elizabeth Antos's picture
Also available in: Español | Français  | 中文 

 World Bank

Machine learning algorithms are excellent at answering “yes” or “no” questions. For example, they can scan huge datasets and correctly tell us: Does this credit card transaction look fraudulent? Is there a cat in this photo?

But it’s not only the simple questions – they can also tackle nuanced and complex questions.

Today, machine learning algorithms can detect over 100 types of cancerous tumors more reliably than a trained human eye. Given this impressive accuracy, we started to wonder: what could machine learning tell us about where people live? In cities that are expanding at breathtaking rates and are at risk from natural disasters, could it warn us that a family’s wall might collapse during an earthquake or rooftop blow away during a hurricane?

Securing land tenure with smartphones

Linus Pott's picture

Photo by Linus Pott / World Bank

More than 1,000 years.

That’s how long recent estimates suggest it would take in some developing countries to legally register all land – due to the limited number of land surveyors in country and the use of outdated, cumbersome, costly, and overly regulated surveying and registration procedures.

But I am convinced that the target of registering all land can be achieved – faster and cheaper. This is an urgent need in Africa where less than 10% of all land is surveyed and registered, as this impacts securing land tenure rights for both women and men – a move that can have a greater effect on household income, food security, and equity.

The question remains, how can we register land and secure tenure at scale?

Perhaps one of our answers can be found in rural Tanzania where I recently witnessed the use of a mobile surveying and registration application. In several villages, USAID and the government of Tanzania are piloting the use of the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST), one of several (open-source) applications available on the market. DFID, SIDA, and DANIDA are supporting a similar project.

The process of mobile land surveying and registration goes like this:

Debunking myths about migrants, refugees, and jobs in South Africa

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 
As one of the most urbanized African countries and the largest economy in Southern Africa, South Africa is a popular and important destination for migrants and refugees from all over Africa, and increasingly, from parts of Asia.

South Africa has over 4 million migrants, including over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. The latest South African census data estimates that migrants account for over 4% of the country’s population. Contrary to what some may think, immigrant workers have had a positive impact on local employment and wages in South Africa, according to a new World Bank study.

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