Working Papers
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Risk, Vulnerability, and Disaster Prevention in Large Cities

Manuel Perló Cohen

February 2008, English

This work is a brief descriptive history. It provides an overview of disasters that have occurred in large urban centers over the last 30 years, as well as the damages and deaths these have caused. I believe that phenomena with destructive potential will occur with greater force in urban conglomerations, since the degree of vulnerability in these areas is quite high.

I discuss the factors behind the disasters in large cities, with special emphasis on the processes of urbanization and growing metropolization worldwide; random urban growth, destruction of the environment; urban poverty; and the low levels of economic and institutional development available to prevent and mitigate natural and/or man-made disasters.

Finally, I make recommendations for developing institutional plans that will help reduce the vulnerability of urban and densely populated areas in the face of disasters.