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Disrupting urban ‘risk traps’: Bridging finance and knowledge for climate resilient infrastructure planning in Lima

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Project Reference: RSGL-1201

Born out of Learning Lima, this research project explores how environmental hazards and small scale disasters impact women and men in Peru’s capital city. Persistent climate and environment-related hazards and repeated small-scale disasters – many of them unrecorded – deplete the livelihoods and assets of the urban poor. Each one makes it harder for them to recover from subsequent disaster events, and they become caught in ‘risk traps’ from which it is hard to escape.

The research, led by University College London’s Bartlett Development Planning Unit in collaboration with Peruvian and international experts, traces why and where urban ‘risk traps’ are created and how they affect residents of unplanned (‘informal’) or marginal settlements. The project also explores how local communities and government agencies can stop the downward cycle through inclusive and smart, targeted actions and investments.

By breaking the vicious cycle of risk accumulation leading to weakened resilience and further disasters, the research will promote ways for urban communities to strengthen their resilience in the long term and assure a brighter ecological and socioeconomic future for the city of Lima.

Working with communities in Lima’s historic centre (Barrios Altos) and periphery (Jose Carlos Mariátegui), the project aims to assess ongoing investments and efforts to prevent, reduce and mitigate risk, create evidence-based tools to inform climate-resilient funding mechanisms, and ultimately disrupt urban ‘risk traps’.

In an interview with CDKN Latin America, the team leader Prof. Adriana Allen explains the project and the idea of disrupting cycles of urban risk.

For more information, please also visit the project’s own website, where you can subscribe to receive regular updates and resources.

Updates and resources

Following the diagnostic phase, in June 2015, the first newsletter was published, on the topic of reframing urban risk in Lima. The policy brief Urban Risk: in search of new perspectives further elaborates on how urban risk can be understood in the context of Lima, focussing on the small scale, episodic events that undermine the resilience of marginalised residents and of the city as a whole. See also the accompanying short film, Disrupting Urban Risk Traps: Bridging finance and knowledge for climate resilient infrastructure planning in Lima.

The next stage of the research centred on participatory mapping and surveys to collect information regarding how risks are created and reproduced. This focussed especially on the financial aspects of risk traps and investments required to reduce these risks, at the neighbourhood level and through public and private investments. The surveys were produced together with residents with support of local partners. The resulting maps have now been digitalised, and are will be available online shortly.

The Ministry of Culture has taken an interest in the project, launching an exhibition in Lima, accompanied by a short film on the participatory mapping process and emerging outcomes. Following an opening ceremony in October 2015, the exhibition was open until the end of December.

Read more about the project’s activities and accomplishments in 2015 in this blog on the project’s website.

The project is led by Adriana Allen at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), in collaboration with:

  • Rita Lambert, Rossana Poblet, Teresa Belkow and Sohel Ahmed at DPU UCL (UK)
  • Liliana Miranda at Foro Ciudades Para La Vida (FCPLV) (Peru)
  • Silvia de los Rios at Centro de Investigación, Documentación y Asesoría Poblacional (CIDAP) (Peru)
  • Carlos Estrada Escalante at Instituto de Desarrollo Urbano (CENCA) (Peru)
  • Linda Zilbert, international expert on disaster risk reduction associated with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery of the UNDP.
  • Prof Muki Haklay at Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL (UK)
  • Prof Andy Hudson-Smith at The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL (UK)
  • Marco Kamiya at UN-HABITAT (Kenya)

CDKN Funding: £275,000

CDKN Project Manager: Michelle Leppert (


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