Amazonians living in remote cities are more vulnerable to flooding and droughts than more accessible centres, researchers at Lancaster University have discovered.
Roadless cities have been found to be more vulnerable to the effects of flooding, because they tend to be less-developed and have inadequate sanitation, exposing inhabitants to environmental pollution and contaminated water.
In the Brazilian part of the Amazon Basin, the research found that almost a million people live in a total of 68 roadless cities –almost wholly reliant on rivers for the movement of people, many services, and virtually all trade-goods.
But, experts have warned, building new roads in an attempt to tackle this vulnerability would be “counter-productive”, putting marginalised people at risk of further harm and exacerbating global climate change by driving deforestation. Decades of careful research in the Amazon has shown that new roads lead inevitably to illegal logging, deforestation and the replacement of rainforest, initially with cattle-ranching.
Dr Luke Parry, of Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “Floods and droughts are becoming more common in the Brazilian Amazon due to climate change and our study shows that the inhabitants of remote and roadless cities are likely to be the worst-affected.
“We compared the vulnerability of more than 300 cities in the region and found that overall levels of development are lower in less accessible cities, including worse access to clean water and sanitation, and sub-standard healthcare and education delivery.”
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