Over the last three decades, natural and human-made disasters have claimed millions of lives and caused huge economic losses globally. Cities, where half of humanity currently resides and much of the world’s assets are concentrated, are fast becoming the locus for much of this destruction and loss from disasters. Rapid urbanization, coupled with global environmental change, is turning an increasing number of human settlements into potential hotspots for disaster risk. The 2005 South Asian earthquake, in which 18,000 children died when their schools collapsed, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that wiped out many coastal settlements in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, are testament to the risk that has accumulated in towns and cities and that is released when disaster strikes. Numerous other cases illustrate the suffering and losses experienced by urban dwellers due to natural and human-made disasters (see Box IV.1).