Climate change, cities, and the poor

December 2015 — As with so many disasters and catastrophic events, the impact of climate change will strike poor and marginalized communities disproportionately, especially (but not exclusively) in the coastal cities of the developing world and in areas where drought and flooding are prevalent. In December 2015, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21 or CMP11) will be held at the Le Bourget site in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11, 2015, aiming to reach a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. How will the urban poor figure in that agreement? What voice will they have in setting its terms and priorities? And what organizations and programs are doing work now in cities of the developing world that could inform that discussion and target its outcome for maximum impact? Join us in this month's important discussion.

Promoting cycling where gas is dirt cheap

Caracas, 31 December 2015 — It’s hard to turn down a trip in the car when gas is just $0.02 per liter. But that’s what citizens in Caracas are doing to turn around the car-focused culture. Cycle enthusiasts are taking to the streets with business ideas and social events to make the congested capital into a more bike-friendly city – all efforts that play a big role in combatting climate change. See more.

O clima de proteção à natureza no Brasil

Curitiba, 30 dezembro 2015 — Enquanto vivermos o capitalismo, o protagonismo da iniciativa privada na luta pela preservação ambiental é imprescindível. Nesse contexto, conheça o trabalho da Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza – vinculado ao paranaense Grupo Boticário – e, também, do Observatório do Clima, rede que alia esta fundação a ONGs semelhantes, para, assim, ter mais representatividade ao exigir políticas públicas sustentáveis no Brasil. Leia mais.

La lucha contra el cambio climático en Bogotá

Bogotá, 29 december 2015 — La ubicación de Bogotá en la cordillera de los andes y en la región ecuatorial, convierte a la capital de Colombia en una ciudad especialmente vulnerable a los efectos del cambio climático. Para combatir el cambio climático y mitigar sus efectos, la administración municipal ha tomado una ambiciosa serie de medidas. Leer más.

Huertas urbanas en Medellín

Medellin, 28 decembre 2015 — En Medellín, las huertas urbanas afrontan los dos desafíos mayores que las ciudades encaran hoy en día: el cambio climático y la pobreza urbana. La agricultura urbana tiene ciertamente un gran impacto medioambiental, y a la vez mejora la seguridad alimentaria de los habitantes pobres. Conozca aquí las huertas urbanas de Pinares de oriente, y el proyecto de huerta acuaponica de La Ciudad Verde. Leer más.

Recycling plastic to solve perennial flooding

Accra, 23 December 2015 — Accra has been bearing the brunt of climate change through periodic flooding. This is because of the improper disposal of plastic waste on the streets, which tends to choke drainage systems, impeding the flow of torrential rains and causing flooding. The Accra Composite and Recycling Plant (ACARP) has been collecting and recycling these plastic materials into products that are being used locally and globally. See more.

مركز بحوث الصحراء المصري يستخدم التدريب والدراسات للتصدي لتغير المناخ وتحسين البيئة

Cairo, 22 December 2015 — مركز بحوث الصحراء مركز تدريب وبحث شامل يهدف إلى دعم عملية استصلاح الصحراء ووضع السياسات لهذا الغرض في القاهرة. كما يهدف أيضا لخدمة المجتمعات المحلية والدولية في تعزيز سبل عيش الناس في هذه المناطق كذلك التصدي لتغير المناخ.اقرأ المزيد عن ذلك

Delhi's informal waste recyclers reduce ill effects of climate change

Delhi, 21 December 2015 — Instead of being victims, what if the urban poor were to become the frontrunners of solutions to combat the ill effects of climate change? What if they could become change agents for improving the quality of life for, not just themselves, but all urban residents? This is exactly the reversal of roles NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group has explored through its support to informal sector waste-recyclers in Delhi. See more.

Global crises, local resilience: From COP 21 back to reality

Johannesburg, 18 December 2015 — In South African cities, climate awareness has increasingly become a part of mainstream political discourse. However, with few exceptions, these climate strategies tend to be a projection of "first world" norms, overly narrow in their scope, and similarly do not engage the socio-political and human rights issues that they are confronted by in their local contexts. In a diverse Johannesburg neighborhood, the Brixton Community Forum organized an event to engage all stakeholders to find ways to creatively build water-sensitive public and domestic spaces in city-identified densification zones. See more.

Surabaya menuju kota hijau dan rendah karbon

Surabaya, 17 December 2015 — Perubahan iklim merupakan permasalahan bersama. Surabaya sebagai kota terbesar kedua di Indonesia bertekap menciptakan Kota Hijau yang berwawasan lingkungan bekerjasama dengan Kota Kitakyushu. Kerjasama ini diwujudkan dalan bentuk transfer teknologi di empat sektor sasaran dan melatih komunitas untuk merubah kebiasaan untuk hemat energy. Baca lebih lanjut.

Multi-faceted approach to flood control in Lagos

Lagos, 16 December 2015 — Flooding has become a serious issue in Lagos. The reason is that many parts of the city are below sea level. Sporadic rainfall and human activities of blocking free passage of water also make many areas vulnerable to floods. To address this challenge, the state government has been investing massively in drainage construction under the Road Network Efficiency Improvement (RNEI). Simultaneously, various stakeholders have been focused on sensitizing the public about the possibility of floods and the need for sound environmental safety practices. See more.

The need for clean cookstoves in Dhaka

Dhaka, 15 December 2015 — Bangladesh is highly prone to climate change, mainly due to its geographical location and a population of 150 million. The effects of climate change have already started to have a negative impact on the economic and developmental sector of the country. The government has committed to reversing this trend. One effort is the "Bondhu Chula," a project being implemented in Dhaka, especially the slum areas, to reduce levels of carbon dioxide emission as well as to decrease fuel consumption in a bid to bring down greenhouse gases levels. See more.

Estrategia local de acción climática

Mexico D.F., 14 Decembre 2015 — En la Ciudad de México, la delegación Milpa Alta somete a consulta pública un programa de acción climática para comprender los efectos del cambio climático desde la perspectiva de su población a fin de generar estrategias de mitigación. Leer más.

Innovative solutions to combat water insecurity

Bangalore, 11 December 2015 — Access to potable water in Bangalore is an inequitable issue, leaving many poorer residents at the mercy of the city’s 'water mafia.' Climate change has led to unpredictable and reduced rainfall in recent years and this, compounded with poor management of resources, has led to unaffordable water prices. Water Health International, with the support of US AID has tied up with the Municipal Corporation in the city to provide clean water for all the residents at an affordable cost. See more.

The benefits of community-managed resources

Nairobi, 10 December 2015 — As is the case in a number of rapidly growing urban centers across the Global South, Nairobi’s growth has occurred in the absence of an urban development framework. This has resulted in housing production and human settlement patterns that are complex and do not meet key environmental justice or sustainable development mandates. See more.

Kerentanan dan adaptasi perubahan iklim di Jakarta

Jakarta, 9 Desember 2015 — Jakarta sebagai salah satu metropolitan paling rentan terhadap perubahan iklim di Asia harus memiliki sebuah sistem yang mampu menilai tingkat kerentanan wilayah kota sehingga kebijakan pemerintah akan lebih tepat sasaran. SIDIK atau Sistem Inventarisasi Data Indeks Kerentanan Perubahan Iklim diharapkan mampu memberikan informasi tersebut kepada pemerintah. Baca lebih lanjut.

فقر و زلزله در تهران

Tehran, 8 December 2015 – تهران با تهدیدهای زیست محیطی زیادی همچون خشکسالی و آلودگی هوا درگیر است. اما یکی از مهمترین و خطرناکترین آنها خطر زلزله است. در شرايطي که به دلیل تغییرات آب و هوایی با رشد فزاينده بروز سوانح طبيعي در جهان روبرو هستيم، نگراني برای کشور سانحه خيز ايران و شهر تهران بيشتر ميشود.ادامه مطلب.

Sustentabilidade e responsabilidade em rede

Rio de Janeiro, 7 dezembro 2015 — Trabalhar em rede é tão importante quanto criar leis e regras que determinem ganhos ambientais, econômicos e sociais expressivos. Neste artigo, conheça duas instituições que confirmam a afirmação, promovendo juntas a conservação da Mata Atlântica, o segundo bioma mais ameaçado de extinção do Planeta. Ambas podem tanto servir de exemplo à COP 21 – que este mês definirá diretrizes globais para conter a emissão de gases de efeito estufa e evitar desastres ambientais – quanto se beneficiar do evento, caso ele seja levado a sério. Leia mais.

New GIS warning system saves Chittagong from landslides

Chittagong, 4 December 2015 — High CO2 emissions and illegal cutting of hills have been contributing to regular landslides in Chittagong city. Migrants from different parts of the country move into Chittagong with the hope of better job opportunities. But high expenditure of city life leads them to live in hills of the city – an area that has turned out to be quite dangerous. A new web-based GIS Warning System initiative has the potential to improve the safety of residents in these areas with a more sophisticated tracking system that connects to key authorities. See more.

Cambio climático y Cali: Entrevista al Alcalde Rodrigo Guerrero

Cali, 3 decembre 2015 — Cali es una ciudad especialmente vulnerable al cambio climático debido a su ubicación. Su alcalde, Rodrigo Guerrero, es consciente del problema y ha lanzado una serie de iniciativas destinadas a mitigar sus efectos. Entre ellas está la reubicación de 7.500 familias de una zona especialmente vulnerable, la implementación de planes de formación en las escuelas y la mejora de los sistemas de drenaje. Leer más.

Community mapping for flood resilience and accountability

Dar es Salaam, 2 December 2015 — Policies to tackle climate change issues in Tanzania remain largely great on paper, with limited implementation in practice. A Dar es Salaam-based university has set out to bring some ground responses alive. It has partnered to set up an Open Street Map for Flooding Resilience. Students and local community members have been trained on how to map out their wards – and the projects results could have a significant impact on community-led responses to building climate resiliency. See more.

Giải pháp nào cho kiểm soát ngập tại thành phố Hồ Chí Minh?

Ho Chi Minh City, 1 Tháng mười hai 2015 — Người dân TP. HCM đều nằm lòng câu nói nửa đùa nửa thật về tình trạng ngập tại thành phố rằng công tác xoá ngập đã được thực hiện triệt để đến độ, chỉ trong vài năm gần đây từ hàng trăm điểm ngập bây giờ chỉ còn duy nhất một điểm. Đó là toàn bộ thành phố. Với thực trạng đó, bài viết này mong muốn tìm hiểu về những nỗ lực thực tế của Trung tâm điều hành chống ngập nước TP. HCM trong công tác chống ngập trước khi quá muộn. Xem thêm.


Join the discussion on Climate change, cities, and the poor in the comments below.

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jorgebela's picture

hi Daina,

the informal settlement of high risk areas by the lowest income families is a constant in the new south. Relocation, as it is being done in Cali, is the only long term solution. However, I am intrigued by the early warning system that you describe. Is it already in operation? Do people pay attention and move to safer ground once the alert is triggered?

Flooding is a major risk in many cities around the world, and I was very interested in the solutions implemented in Ho Chi Minh City. I come from Paris (France) and during my studies I learnt about various cities at risk of flooding, such as Shanghai... However, many more cities that are still not affected ara also at risk. Paris is a good example: we can expect a major flooding of the Seine River that could affect up to 5 million residents in the greater Paris area and cause up to 30 billion euros worth of damage. However, no one knows about it, parisians are clearly unprepared... Hopefully we can learn from cities that have already suffered from flood disasters and have shown resilience.

Dear Daina,

Great article! What an interesting way to integrate technology with disaster mitigation efforts! Are the subscribers to the platform mainly city institutions? Or do local residents receive these notices as well? Have there been any landslides in the last year that have tested the system?

Dear Gemma,
firstly, nice picture choice, it is very flowing and seems as real, so great selection indeed!
Secondly, as I am also speaking from one of the African countries-Egypt- I wonder how the mapping project is used by the illiterate or people with low level of education. We have high percentage of illiteracy in Egypt, and such project if replicated will be used generally on academic level. May you elaborate on this? Is the mapping project available for all natives or for how the nation holistically trained to use it?
Best regards,

Dear Shaima,

Thank you for your comment and great to hear about experiences in Egypt! I think you raise a very good question, and much needed.

The mapping is open to all community members, it is advertised online and across universities and is being conducted in the actual communities (mappers attending designated areas) or in computer rooms of universities. When it is advertised online, different community members are invited to map a area of Dar es Salaam, it says they do not need to know the specific GIS tools as there will be assistance provided.

Maybe two things to mention: they are providing training within communities so they themselves can be involved in the mapping; and they are inviting a broad audience, whom are not necessarily GIS trained. However, who participates comes back to the question of education and illiteracy. The advertising is online - therefore computer literacy is key to be able to be aware of the mapping exercise, it may also seem exclusive to computer literate people, therefore excluding members of the community whom may otherwise have participated. I can see in there recent call for mapping a area of Dar es Salaam they say people can help with mapping wherever they are, they just need to log in online. This makes it more open - however, you need to be able to access a computer.

The main mappers are students and young people - either training in this field or whom wish to receive training. But the idea is inviting participation across the nation and community members. A lot more needs to be done however to ensure everyone who wants to participate can, and all are aware of the opportunity to participate in mapping Dar es Salaam.

Thanks Shaima!

All the best,


María Fernanda Carvallo's picture

Daina, great article about the alert system for people in risk at the hills, it is really interesting that people can have previous information in order to prevent damage. I have the same question as Jorge, if people can go to another settlement while the risk passes? If the settlement is damaged, other programs exist in order to help people?

Andréa Azambuja's picture

Dear Samiha Ali,

Great article, thank you very much for it. I was really shocked when I read The Independent article you shared and found out that around 32,000 children and 14,000 women die every year now by inhaling smokes from the traditional clay-cooking stoves.
This project that, as you pointed out, can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in a great deal and consequently protect the lifestyle and livelihood of millions of people (specially the marginalized poor communities) can instantly save lifes, by directly creating a safer environment for the families. Its also interesting that the use of 'Bondhu Chula' can “save up to 90 percent fuel cost of a family benefiting them in many ways, including cooking time” - another benefits that certainly make a lot of difference in their lives. It seems to be a great project in many angles, right?´Than you again for sharing this :)

Peter Adeyeye's picture

Dear Mukta,
An interesting piece commending the informal sector. I was fascinated about your topic not only because the informal waste recyclers constitute the thrust of E-waste management in Lagos but also because I did a study assessing E-waste Management system in Lagos in 2014 using a value chain analysis. From the study, because of the technicalities and the huge finance needed for effective e-waste management, the informal recyclers uses crude technology and most of their activities (including dismantling and burning of E-waste) have dire consequences on human health and the environment. I will like to know more about their activities in Delhi, can they manage the waste efficiently? Just like the recommendation made in the study, I totally agree with you that government needs to empower the informal sector. Thanks

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