Minimising flood risk in Kathmandu’s informal riverbank settlements: An exploration of the factors affecting residents’ flood adaptation to their housing
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypePhD thesis
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© 2019 Neeraj Dangol
More than eight hundred million people are living in slum conditions in low-income countries. Informal settlements often emerge at hazardous locations that have no value for developers and are close to livelihood opportunities and social services. Governments in low-income countries might not be capable of providing alternative housing or locations to resettle informal settlement residents from hazardous to a safer place. In some cases, governments tend to ignore informal settlements consciously, or they attempt to evict them without alternatives. In response to living in hazardous conditions, informal settlement residents, where it is possible, may implement adaptation measures that reduce hazard risk. This thesis investigates the factors that influence riverbank informal settlement residents’ flood adaptation of housing. The factors investigated are perceptions of flood risk and tenure security and socio-economic characteristics of informal settlement residents. This thesis arises from the lack of research on the influence of informal settlement residents’ perception of tenure security and perception of hazard risk on their adaptation of housing. This research investigates the combined influences of both perceptions of tenure security and flood risk on informal dwellers’ flood adaptation of their houses. It informs circumstances in many countries; however, this has not been researched before anywhere. The thesis also explores these perceptions in association with the socio-economic factors which influence informal settlement residents’ flood adaptation. The case study of the thesis comprises riverbank informal settlements in Kathmandu which are at constant flood risk during monsoon season every year. Riverbank informal settlements in Kathmandu are considered illegal. Their eviction can take place at any time by the government. Data on perception of tenure security, perception of flood risk and socio-economic factors were collected through 40 in-depth semi-structured interviews. In addition, flood adaptation measures were identified based on inspections of interviewees’ houses and inquiring with them about their flood adaptation. Overall, the results showed that in some cases, perception of tenure security became more influential to the adaptation and, in other cases, perception of flood risk had a more dominant role. Moreover, the financial condition became more crucial than both perceptions in some interviewees’ implementation of flood adaptation. The detail underlying these findings contributes to knowledge in understanding the combined influence of perceptions of tenure security and flood risk and socio-economic factors on flood adaptation of housing by informal settlement residents. The research is based on the case study of Kathmandu; however, the findings are relevant in other situations as well. Flooding is common phenomena to informal settlements situated at flood prone areas elsewhere in the world. It will be increasing phenomena with climate change impacts. The research contribution, as mentioned earlier, is understanding the perceptions and combined effects of perceptions on flood adaptation of housing by informal settlers. This issue is relevant to many cities and Kathmandu is one of them.
KeywordsInformal settlement; Flood risk; Flood adaptation; Community resilience; Perception of tenure security; Perception of flood risk; Socio-economic characteristics; Disaster risk reduction; Kathmandu
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