World News

Factbox: Slum dwellers in the line of disasters-Red Cross

NAIROBI (Reuters) - About one billion slum dwellers in developing countries are vulnerable to disasters because they live in congested and poorly built houses without emergency services, the Red Cross said in a report

Following are some key facts about urban populations and disasters:

- Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas.

- The global urban population has grown from 737 million in 1950 to 3.5 billion today. It is expected to reach 5 billion by 2030.

- There has been a shift from most of the urban population being in high-income nations (1950) to living in low- and middle-income nations (2010 and beyond).

- Africa’s urban population is now much larger than that of North America.

- In 2030, 55 per cent of the world’s urban population will live in Asia, according to the United Nations.

- Around 1 billion urban dwellers live in poor-quality, overcrowded housing in slums. The United Nations predicts this will rise to 1.4 billion by 2020 unless governments and international agencies improve housing for low-income groups.

- A slum is defined by UN-Habitat as lacking one or more of the following: durable housing; sufficient living area; access to water and sanitation; and secure tenure.

- The five worst disasters impacting on cities in terms of people killed between 2000-2010 were:

1) South Asian tsunami (2004) - 226,408 deaths

2) Haiti earthquake (2010) - 222,570 deaths

3) Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar (2008) - 138,366 deaths

4) Sichuan earthquake, China (2008) - 87,476 deaths

5) Kashmir earthquake, Pakistan (2005) - 73,338 deaths

- Each year, 81 per cent of cyclone-related deaths occur in low-income nations, compared to 1 per cent in high income nations. In contrast, 74 per cent of economic losses are felt in high-income nations compared to 3 per cent in low-income countries.

- Approximately 60 percent of urban residents in developing countries have been victims of crime in the last five years, according to the United Nations. This rises to 70 per cent in parts of Latin America and Africa.

Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, World Disasters Report 2010.