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Natural hazards become disasters when they impact the people and assets that are exposed to their destructive effects. Nowhere is this more significant than in the world’s cities, towns, and villages. Factors such as inappropriate land use, poorly designed and constructed buildings and infrastructure, and an increasingly degraded environment put human settlements at risk. In recent years, the world has witnessed an increasing series of disasters which have resulted in the dramatic loss of human life, the destruction of homes, property, infrastructure, and services, and the displacement of entire communities.
By end of 2011, over 42 million people worldwide were displaced as a result of conflict and persecution. Although many of these people remain displaced years later, all of them needed some form of shelter support. In addition, 336 natural disasters in 2011 affected 209 million people, and created significant short and long term shelter needs. While most of these needs were met by the affected populations themselves, a significant number of people depended upon support from their governments and external organizations.
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