Supports for Multi-hazard Risk Reduction in Urban Local Bodies

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Ripin Kalra

Abstract

India’s urban assets and populations are highly vulnerable to a multitude of natural hazards, climate variability and environmental change. This can well impact on the entire nation, as economic output comes primarily from in and around its urban settlements. Empirical evidence from recent disasters, despite some major successes, reinforces the limited preparedness of Indian towns and cities to withstand multiple hazards such as fires, floods, extreme temperatures, earthquakes and strong winds. Unregulated growth and the quality of built environment are among a host of factors that have resulted in this vulnerability to disaster events. The research issue that this paper addresses is that of enabling the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) to implement disaster risk reduction and recovery framework(s) developed and agreed on at the national and sub-national levels. This paper highlights capacity challenges within local government for managing natural disasters amongst wider challenges of service provision. The paper draws upon empirical observations to argue that despite their best intentions ULBs are currently constrained in implementing the extensive comprehensive disaster risk & recovery approach driven by a multiplicity of national and multilateral policies. The paper provides observations from the Kosi River flooding disaster (2008) in Bihar state to illustrate this point. The paper further highlights that while this situation will not change overnight there are a number of practical opportunities to support ULBs in making an immediate start and superimpose risk reduction onto development programmes.

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