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The world’s population is -and will be- constantly increasing, mainly due to the demographic explosion of Asia and Africa. In the so-called Third World countries, there is a sharp decline in mortality and an increase in life expectancy, while maintaining high fertility. Therefore, we are witnessing natural population growth at a rate five times that of the West. Africa will be accounted for 25 per cent of the world’s population by 2050 and 39 per cent by 2100. Asia, for its part, will account for 54 per cent of the world’s population by 2050 and 44 per cent by 2100. This means that growth in countries with both major economic and social difficulties will increase steadily over the coming decades.

In addition, this strong and rapid demographic growth will be concentrated in cities. Two-thirds of the world’s population will be urban by 2050. Consequently, the Third World will be urbanized. Besides that, it will be done quickly, unplanned, in dense urban areas with limited resources. This will generate a constant source of health and social disasters. Substandard settlements and slums are going to proliferate.

Population growth, urbanization, industrialization and mining lead to this shortage of freshwater suitable for human consumption. According to WHO, 11% of the world’s population – 783 million people – has a lack access to safe drinking water, and billions remain without sanitation. The use of wastewater for human consumption and for agriculture uses has been normalized, exposing people directly to diseases such as malnutrition, anemia, cholera, dengue, malaria and legionelosis.


Humanitarian crises arise when large-scale emergencies cannot be solved with the existing resources in situ. Some of them are the result of warlike conflicts and the massive displacement of population, others of adverse climatic events. Somalia, Burundi, the Lake Chad basin, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan are experiencing warlike conflicts. South America periodically suffers heavy rains and floods of the Niño. The Pacific coast – especially Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan – has a large seismic activity, with a high risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. In all cases, speed and diligence in acting are key to avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe.

Climate change translates into the polarization of meteorological situations: while large droughts occurs in some places, heavy floods take place in others. The impact of climate risks increases exponentially the poorer, dependent on the environment and vulnerable the population is.


Political conflicts and large asymmetries between countries translate into thousands of people migrating to find a better life. UNHCR estimates that the number of displaced people in 2015 exceeded 60 million people, which is the largest exodus of population on a world scale since World War II. Of those sixty million, 19.5 were refugees and 1.8 asylum seekers. Almost half of
the refugee population was in an “extended refuge” situation.

Since 2013 the origin of refugees has been marked by the crisis in Syria and large-scale displacements in some African regions. Nearly four million displaced people left Syria, two and a half million people did from Afghanistan and one million Somalis.

According to the United Nations, this trend will continue over the next four decades: India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Mexico will generate more than 100,000 net emigrants
annually, which will mainly receive the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Germany and Italy.

According to EUROSTAT data, in 2015 Europe – meaning the 28 countries of the European Union -served 1,321,600 requests for international asylum; a figure that triples that of 2014. However,
each year increases the number of refugees going to the most impoverished countries – 86% according to the most recent figures. The main host countries are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and
Iran. According to UNHCR, only these four countries received more than 5.2 million people in 2014, about 36% of the world’s total refugees.

The main and most direct consequence of migrations, whether regional or international, is the need to accommodate large numbers of people. Many of them end up in refugee camps, living
in crowded and unhygienic conditions. The main problem is the lack of planning of these spaces, the limited economic budget to provide a more stable accommodation and hurry on constructing those settlements.

The demographic explosion of the poorest countries, famines, war, the increasing frequency of climatic disasters, the increase of social and economic inequalities, amongst other crises, put thousands of people a year in extreme vulnerability. More and more people will be deprived of the access to decent housing. Migrations will generate constant and large-scale emergency situations for at least the next 30 years.

The only clear solution to address present and future housing emergencies is the combination of speed in action, planning of those spaces, efficient sanitation and drinking water systems, and durability of the used building materials.