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Examining urban inequality and vulnerability to enhance resilience: insights from Mumbai, India

Abstract

Understanding how households, ranging from poor to wealthy differ in levels of vulnerability to hazards, such as floods and heat waves and knowledge of the mechanisms creating this difference is fundamental to enhancing resilience, fairly, across urban populations. A complex problem exists, however, in determining the relative influences of various attributes of wealth and vulnerability. In this paper we apply a livelihoods framework to characterize urban households by the resources or assets that comprise their livelihoods. We then combine a fuzzy logic approach with an analytic hierarchy process (ANH), to examine the relative influence of wealth (poverty), exposure, sensitivity and capacity on vulnerability to climate hazards in Mumbai, India. While research on urban resilience has grown considerably in recent years, this paper belongs to the few studies that have examined the relative influence of wealth and capacity on differences in vulnerability within and across household classes in cities. We find that under current climate change conditions, differences in wealth and capacity largely account for the high household vulnerability levels in Mumbai. While this pattern might change in a future (warmer) world, without a profound transformation, it is hard to imagine that the change would be for the better.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by funding from the NSF PIRE Award #1243535. Survey support from Dr. Gufran Beig’s team and students at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology was invaluable. The authors would also like to acknowledge the reviewers for their useful suggestions and comments.

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Correspondence to Patricia Romero-Lankao.

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Romero-Lankao, P., Gnatz, D.M. & Sperling, J.B. Examining urban inequality and vulnerability to enhance resilience: insights from Mumbai, India. Climatic Change 139, 351–365 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1813-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1813-z

Keywords

  • Analytic Hierarchy Process
  • Social Inequality
  • Informal Settlement
  • Climate Risk
  • Urban Household