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Slum dwellers response to flooding events in the megacities of India

Abstract

Megacities in developing countries are rapidly transforming places. Under the impetus of global change processes and consequent transformations at the environmental, social, cultural, political and economical scales; factors causing disasters and losses are changing every day. These changes are also altering society’s ability to respond to hazard events. This paper examines the response of slum dwellers who are the most vulnerable and marginal section of urban population and often located in places with high hazard risk with less or no means to reduce the impact of flood events. Marginal population groups in megacities suffer the negative consequences of large scale global change processes and do not benefit from the risk mitigation strategies adopted by city authorities. The paper therefore argues that people living in informal settlements instead have to employ a combination of structural means and complex networks of assistance to recover from floods. Based on the results deduced from data collected with the help of household surveys in the slums of Mumbai, the study demonstrates the types of coping strategies used by slum dwellers and the changing characteristics of these mechanisms under the influence of global change processes in megacities. Furthermore, results show that capacity to respond is not equally distributed among slum dwellers due to underlying socio cultural divisions and emerging economic and political constraints. The paper concludes that to address existing discrepancies in urban societies and within slum settlements, flood mitigation strategies will have to be (1) more inclusive of marginal population (2) sensitive to the limitations and scope of old and new social structures and (3) incorporate innovative networks of support to deal with the consequences of global change.

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Notes

  1. Page 359 -IPCC 2007b. Industry, Settlement and Society. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. M. L. Parry, O F Canziani, J P Palutikof, P J Van Der Linden and C E Hanson 976. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. ‘When persistent damage to human settlements does not provoke their abandonment or relocation and the inhabitants therefore cohabit with damage and rebuild or repair it whenever possible.’ Page 56 Alexander 2000. Confronting Catastrophe. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Robin Leichenko and James K. Mitchell for their suggestions on previous drafts and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Monalisa Chatterjee.

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Chatterjee, M. Slum dwellers response to flooding events in the megacities of India. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 15, 337–353 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-010-9221-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-010-9221-6

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Cities
  • Hazards
  • India
  • Mitigation
  • Slums
  • Vulnerability