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Title: Adaptation to flooding in low-income urban settlements of the least developed countries : a case of Dhaka East, Bangladesh
Author: Haque, Anika Nasra
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 1109
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Low-income urban settlements in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) present an extreme case where catastrophic hazards (natural events) and chronic hazards (developed through lack of basic services) overlap. These low-income urban populations often occupy informal settlements that are particularly exposed to natural hazards such as flooding, and their vulnerability also reflects multiple deficiencies arising from their lack of basic services; they accordingly face the greatest challenges to adapt. The research reported in this thesis aims (i) to understand the adaptation processes of the urban poor to flooding; (ii) to develop new knowledge about bottom-up ways in which adaptation to flooding emerges and can be enhanced within households and communities in low-income urban settlements; and (iii) to identify how relevant organizations can contribute effectively to the adaptation process, from a more top-down perspective. The particular case study for the research is located in Dhaka East, where there is both high vulnerability to flooding, and also a significant proportion of the low-income population. The research has adopted a mixed methods approach involving different data collection methods primarily governed by the different scales and actors being investigated, i.e. households, communities and organizations (including government and NGOs). Hence, a questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews and transect walks have all been undertaken. The diverse forms of data deriving from these methods have been integrated using a qualitative form of systems analysis, to understand the relationships amongst the key variables in the vulnerability and adaptation system under investigation. The research has also developed a form of grounded theory on the processes whereby adaptive behaviour is learned and diffused in amongst the population at risk, and how more organizational-level procedures can positively influence these processes, and be improved where necessary. The research contributes to the advancement of knowledge about (a) the vulnerability of urban poor to flooding; (b) the adaptation process of the urban poor to flooding; (c) the role of organizations in affecting both vulnerability and adaptation amongst the urban poor; (d) a research methodology appropriate for exploring such inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary research issues. The study further provides relevant recommendations, based on conclusions from the systems analyses, which are potentially applicable in similar contexts in the LDCs in helping low-income urban populations to adapt more successfully to flooding. Notably, although the research focuses on adaptation of the urban poor to flooding in Dhaka, its conceptual, methodological and research findings are likely to be applicable in other LDCs where the urban poor are subjected to environmental risks.
Supervisor: Bithell, Mike ; Richards, Keith Sponsor: Schlumberger Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: adaptation ; low income urban settlement ; flooding ; least developed country ; bangladesh ; climate change ; climatic variability ; governance