Publication: Urban Inequality and Vulnerability in Mumbai, India

The journal of Climatic Change published an outcome from our PIRE efforts by Patricia Romero-Lankao and Josh Sperling at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, titled “Examining Urban Inequality and Vulnerability to Enhance Resilience:  Insights from Mumbai, India”.


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, will be 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 hierarchic 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 is one of the few studies that have examined the relative influence of wealth and vulnerability on differences in resilience, within and across household classes in cities. We find, under current climate change conditions, that differences in wealth and capacity largely account for high household vulnerability levels in Mumbai, India. Without a profound transformation towards policies and actions addressing the structural drivers of social marginalization and exclusion of a majority of households, Mumbai could reach these limits in a not far distant future.


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