Pre-crisis market analysis for disaster risk reduction in urban informal settlements. A pilot study on housing market system in Polvorines, Peru

Ilieva, Lili

Today, the majority of the global population lives in urban areas and this rapid urbanization is a root cause of increasing disaster risk (UNISDR, 2012; 2013). As more people settle in unregulated highrisk areas, the greater the probability of casualties and economic losses is, as a result of climatic events such as floods. This makes it critical to focus on disaster risk reduction in urban areas (UNISDR, 2012). This shift has contributed to one of the biggest challenges in developing countries: the formation of unplanned informal settlements in high risk areas. In the Latin America and Caribbean region, informal settlements are a significant feature of urban growth. According to UN-Habitat (2016), 104 million people live in irregular settlements in the region, equivalent to 21% of its urban population as of 2014. In Peru alone, 8.2 million people live in such peri-urban areas, which correspond to 34% of the urban population. People living in informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to floods (GFDRR/ World Bank, 2012). Most informal settlements carry physical vulnerabilities because of their inappropriate location or poor construction practices. These settlements are often located in highly risk areas and built with low quality design and construction materials, on plots with no secure land tenure. This also leads households to be left out of the basic service provision such as potable water and electricity. They therefore rely on illegal connections to electricity poles, to water points and do not currently have access to improved sanitation. The drivers for this urbanisation are economic opportunity pulling people to the cities for jobs, compounded by lack of planning enforcement, allowing illegal settlements to establish and grow. As a result local livelihoods, strongly depend on market systems, be it for food, access to water and sanitation, adequate housing and employment. In the face of catastrophic events market systems in these areas are often severely disrupted and collapse, thus affecting the coping capacity of the population to survive and recover. Market oriented approaches for emergency response, such as the Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA) toolkit1, have proved to be effective in rapid analyses of market systems in post-disaster context. In recent years it has been recognised that incorporating market development approaches in risk reduction will facilitate transition from dependence on external relief to building local resilience.