Vulnerability to extreme weather events in cities: implications for infrastructure and livelihoods

by Gough, Yankson, Wilby, Amankwaa, Abarike, Codjoe, Griffiths, Kasei, Kayaga And Nabilse

06 Aug 2019
Journal of the British Academy
27 (pp. 155-181)

Abstract: Many cities in the Global South are facing challenges as they increasingly experience extreme weather events, which disproportionately affect the urban poor. Focussing on severe heat and surface water flooding, this paper explores how these extreme weather events impact on infrastructure provision and livelihoods in low- income urban communities in Ghana. Climate series, including temperature data recorded in people’s homes and workplaces, are linked to qualitative interview data collected in eight neighbourhoods within the cities of Accra and Tamale during 2018. Additional evidence was obtained through key informant interviews with health service, water and electricity supply officials. The paper demonstrates that extreme heat and flooding events are causing disruptions to infrastructure provision and impacting vulnerable populations through loss of goods and property, reduced incomes, restricted mobility, and poorer health, alongside interrupted and increasingly overstretched services. The paper concludes that improved understanding of the climate–infrastructure–livelihoods nexus can reveal entry points for adaptations that reduce the vulnerability of low-income communities to extreme weather events in cities.

Keywords: Flooding, extreme heat, electricity, water, health, livelihood, mobility, Ghana, Accra, Tamale.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 7, supplementary issue 2 (Cities and Infrastructure in the Global South).

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