Climate risk responses and the urban poor in the global South: a case of Dhaka’s low-income settlements

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The impacts of climatic hazards pose disproportionate risks on the poorer groups who are often the least able to
adapt. The low-income urban settlements1 present the extreme cases where the vulnerability to climate risks
increases manifold due to pre-existing socio-economic vulnerabilities (e.g. developed through lack of basic
services). Despite wide acknowledgement of Dhaka’s growing vulnerability to climate change, there is hardly any
recent documentation on the existing micro-level adaptation practices, particularly on the most vulnerable lowincome
communities who are the hardest hit and often lacks the pre-conditions for successful adaptation. Due to
the lack of data the understanding of the ongoing phenomenon in Dhaka is not clear and this study attempts to
fill the gap by identifying the ways in which Dhaka’s low-income population respond to their flood risk. The
study adopts mixed-methods (questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, transect walks) to collect required
data covering different scales, i.e. household and community. The results show despite being challenged by
numerous pre-existing conditions, the vulnerable communities show great resilience to climatic risks based on
their limited resources, local knowledge and skills. The study also reveals that the urban poor does not respond to
the physical risk itself, rather they respond to what that risk means to their livelihood. Based on the analysis of
the existing adaptation responses, the study identifies ways in which the macro-level efforts can be integrated
with the micro-level responses to achieve meaningful longer-term resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102534
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

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