The relationship between “coping” and “resilience” increasingly features in academic, policy and practical discussions on adaptation to climate change in urban areas. This paper examines this relationship in the context of households in “extreme poverty” in the city of Khulna, Bangladesh. It draws on a quantitative data set based on 550 household interviews in low-income and informal settlements that identified the extent of the underlying drivers of vulnerability in this setting, including very low income, inadequate shelter, poor nutritional status and limited physical assets. A series of focus groups were used to explore the ways in which physical hazards have interacted with this underlying vulnerability, as a means to understand the potential impacts of climate change on this particular group of urban residents. These outcomes include frequent water-logging, the destruction of houses and disruption to the provision of basic services. The main focus of the paper is on describing the practices of low-income urban residents in responding to climate-related shocks and stresses, placing these in a particular political context, and drawing lessons for urban policies in Bangladesh and elsewhere. A wide range of specific adaptation-related activities can be identified, which can be grouped into three main categories – individual, communal and institutional. The paper examines the extent to which institutional actions are merely “coping” – or whether they create the conditions in which individuals and households can strengthen their own long-term resilience. Similarly, it examines the extent to which individual and communal responses are merely “coping” – or whether they have the potential to generate broader political change that strengthens the position of marginalized groups in the city.
Haque, A.N.; Dodman, D.; Hossain, M.M. Individual, communal and institutional responses to climate change by low-income households in Khulna, Bangladesh. Environment and Urbanization (2014) 26 (1) 112-129. [DOI: 10.1177/0956247813518681]