Fire Risk and Vulnerability in Urban Informal Settlements in Metro Manila

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Riskhantering och Samhällssäkerhet

Abstract: Urban fires, particularly in informal settlements in rapidly urbanizing cities in the developing world, are an “everyday disaster” that oftentimes goes unnoticed or under-served in the face of disturbances of the more “lethal reputation”. These disturbances of normal existence are arguably the most debilitating to vulnerable communities and sustainable development, and yet get little attention in disaster literature or in practice. This thesis set out to highlight the significance of informal settlement fires as part of the overall urban fire problem, and further the understanding of the complex, multi-dimensional, aspects of informal settlements as they relate to urban fire risk and holistic management of urban disasters in a resource-limited environment (in this case Metro Manila). Living conditions in slums are characterized by acute poverty, overcrowding, substandard housing, high levels of un- or under-employment, deficient/insufficient basic services (e.g. water, sanitation), and widespread social, spatial, economic and legal exclusions. Fires in these communities are a daily reality that have short term, but primarily long-term devastating impacts that perpetuate the cycle of poverty and societal inequities. Several theories and quantitative, socio-technical analyses were explored in the context of Quezon City to piece together a complex understanding of IS fires and to better inform decision-makers in developing more comprehensive and sustainable urban disaster risk reduction strategies. The aim is to bring the urban fire problem into the overall disaster risk and sustainable development discourse, such that effective, locally relevant interventions target those in greatest need.

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