In March 2019, Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor Andy Rumbach, and Gretel Follingstad (PhD candidate in Design & Planning) published a new article in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. They studied 5 fast-growing towns and villages in the mountains of West Bengal, India with some pretty eye-opening findings. The full article, "Urban disasters beyond the city: Environmental risk in India’s fast-growing towns and villages" is available online here.
India is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the world. Although urban scholars tend to focus on India’s large cities, urbanization
is also transforming its villages and towns. In this paper we ask how urbanization is shaping environmental risk in five fast-growing towns and villages in the Darjeeling District, a mountainous region
in the state of West Bengal. We base our study on the MOVE Framework, a comprehensive and integrative framework for assessing disaster and climate risk. Drawing on primary and secondary data collected over a 3-year period 2015–2017, we find that urbanizing towns and villages are characterized by rapid spatial growth, dynamic and challenging hazard contexts, and limitations in governance capacity or resources to document, govern, or adapt to emerging environmental threats. The risk that is accumulating in the built environment and economy may only be “revealed” after a major disaster, however. These characteristics and trends are likely common in other small urbanizing places and must be managed to achieve national and international goals for sustainable and resilient development.