This paper examines the risks of natural hazards and disasters that challenge the development efforts of the urban or city development process. It also highlights how local government, as the key partner of the development process, could contribute effectively to reducing disaster risks in their respective operational areas. In the course of the report, the author explains that rapidly expanding urbanisation is a major contributor to disaster risk in developing countries, especially flooding which is exacerbates through poor drainage systems. Other problems that have arisen due to urbanisation include:
improper waste management
poor health and sanitation
poor land use planning
poor shelter and infrastructure development
lack of proper road transport and communication
poor provision of urban services.
The report argues that local governments could play a major role in disaster risk reduction (DRR) as they have the necessary mandate for development. To help with this, Urban Local Governments need regular practice in assessing the risk environment at micro-level to understand the factors contributing to high impact hazards, their nature and consequences.The author concludes that, when measures for reducing risk are integrated into regular development programmes or routine service functions, it will be more cost effective to deliver. At the same time, it will also ensure public safety, reduce the scale of economic impacts, and contribute to sustainability of development gains. The approach will boost the confidence of the private sector, prompting further investment which will essentially contribute to sustainable growth of urban areas, public safety and long term urban and general development of the country.The report gives the following recommendations to Local Goverments (LGs) and other stakeholders:
LGs should establish city/ community-level early warning systems and set up mechanisms for quick dissemination of early warning messages
LGs need to involve urban communities and their organisations in designing, planning and implementing, as well as maintenance of efficient and hygienic waste disposal facilities
Governments should be more proactive in reducing urban risks due to geo-physical and hydro-meteorological hazards through collaborative efforts and concerted action
Governments ought to emphasise the importance of risk reduction and encourage participation of all stakeholders in reducing urban risks
Risk reduction plans should include structural interventions, and more emphasis should be placed on non-structural interventions such as public awareness raising, capacity building, early warning, and contingency planning.
LGs should aim to develop the capacity of first responders, who are in most cases the general public
LGs ought to develop long-term action plans for DRR at city level for identification of areas for reducing risk.