Responding to urban disasters: Learning from previous relief and recovery operations

Disaster response in an urban environment presents a wide variety of challenges. Humanitarian organisations often have more experience of disaster response in rural settings, and local authorities and community organisations may have little experience of planning and executing large-scale activities in response and recovery. This paper draws on experience from the responses to number of urban disasters, including earthquake responses in Bam (Iran); Bhuj (India), Izmit (Turkey), and Kobe (Japan); storm and hurricane in Gonaives (Haiti) and New Orleans (United States), and conflict responses in Angola and Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The paper highlights key lessons to guide local authorities, national governments, international agencies, the private sector, learning centres and community organisations in approaching the specific challenges of addressing and responding to disaster risks in urban environments.