#KEEPCOOL (Updated New Video 22/12)
We work with slum residents to crowd-source data to map, manage and build resilience to extreme heat.
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
Urban heat has become a grave climate risk in Indian cities, causing an increase in heat-related deaths and illnesses, especially for vulnerable people living in slums. Much of this heat stress could be avoided through community resilience-building efforts and urban planning. We propose to enhance people’s resilience to heat in slums by working with residents and city authorities to fill a data gap, create heat maps and co-design solutions. Our project intends to create an analytical understanding of urban heat, inform urban planning and install solutions in urban slums. At the community level, information kiosks, water stations, cooling places, and SMS/ heat-emergency services may be installed within slums. At city level, an information database may inform the development of long-term urban heat strategies, plans & policies.
The framework for this project is based on WRI’s Individual Resilience Indicators (IRIs), designed to evaluate urban resilience at multiple scales, from the individual citizen to the city level. In this system, individual citizens are viewed as active agents in resilience-building efforts within the broader urban context. The project involves 6 stages—research, data collection, analysis, co-design, implementation, and evaluation.
For this project, the IRIs framework and approach will be tailored to an Indian context, and implemented in one slum community in the M-Ward in Mumbai, to understand impacts of heat stress on residents’ lives and livelihoods.
Primary beneficiaries include residents and outdoor workers of one slum in Mumbai. Secondary beneficiaries include community based organizations and trusts focused on health and quality of life. Other beneficiaries include municipal planners and local government officers. Individuals & institutions participating in the data collection, analysis & design process will benefit from solutions, as well as from the resilience inventory intended as an open-source data base, for future scalability.
HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports an increase in heatwaves in the 20th century (2007) and predicts a 2-4 Cº average national temperature rise in India by 2030. Heat poses significant health risks like dehydration, diarrhoea, fatigue and fatalities. Impacts include burdened healthcare systems and overall lost productivity, affecting people’s livelihoods. Slum communities are most vulnerable to heat stress through continuous exposure to spiking temperatures and poor access to adequate health services, cooling facilities or information. India’s population is projected to be 54% urban by 2050 (ACCCRN) and a lack of affordable housing will lead to growth in slum populations. Today, 50% of Mumbai's population, or 6 million people already live in slums. The national census estimates that over 60 million people in India live in degrading conditions.
Urban slum dwellings are not designed to resist heat and are built with cheap materials like cement sheets, plastic covers, and corrugated tin sheets that absorb heat, creating stuffy and hot living conditions. Most slum residents work outdoors in the informal sector as construction laborers, vendors, domestic workers, or taxi and auto drivers. Lack of water and sanitation facilities exacerbate health risks; while poor mobility options result in more walking trips, invariably leaving them more exposed.
Our project combines several Open IDEO design principles: Consider the system; Plan for the ordinary, not just the extraordinary; Design for gender equality; Design with, not for.
Yes, for two or more years
I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global think tank that works at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. In India and Brazil, WRI is developing research and tools to integrate climate change adaptation into development initiatives in urban and rural communities.
IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?
WRI launched the Individual Resilience Indicators (IRIs) as a tool and framework through two pilot projects in the cities of Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2014. In Brazil, the research phase is now complete and we are moving into implementation. While working towards tangible outcomes for these cities, the pilots help refine our approach, and test the indicators as an effective tool for compiling data, enhancing resilience knowledge and contributing to strategies that cities can implement and monitor over time.
We are working across offices in Brazil and India to make the IRIs globally relevant. Through our project in India, we aim to apply resilience indicators in the context of a specific climate impact, heat stress, and in a specific community context: a dense slum in Mumbai. This will allow WRI to scale the unit of analysis and problem-solving down to the individual level, while opening up new place-based solutions that address community concerns and urban needs.
HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?
To enhance resilience capacities within a community or city, analyses and solutions must consider various scales of impacts, needs and aspirations. There is a lack of measurement tools that provide this level of analytical information. The IRIs fill this gap by measuring, amongst others, inequality at the city level, social cohesion at the community level, and preparedness at the individual level.
There is inadequate awareness of climate change in relation to increasing heat stress and preparedness among vulnerable groups. Heat is not perceived as a fatal threat in hot and humid Indian cities, but more as an impediment to productivity. This project correlates climate change trends with impacts at community level (assessing gender and age segregated data) to develop solutions that address ordinary, and extra-ordinary temperature events.
The WRI team has worked in Mumbai over the last 8 years with government officials and municipal planners. This capacity can be leveraged to scale the project from community level to city level, to perceive heat as a hazard and a planning priority.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
Process: What are the most appropriate technologies for collecting and analyzing data? Can we leverage ICT as an effective early warning system? To what extent is it possible to draw concrete analysis from quantitative with qualitative datasets?
Engagement: How can we partner with community-based groups, cities and other stakeholders to reach and involve vulnerable populations?
Impact: What are the best solutions for addressing heat stress? How can individual and community level data be aggregated and mainstreamed into other data sets to build resilience at the city scale? Can we influence municipal decision making to include illegal informal settlements in resilience strategies?
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?
Heat stress in cities is a slow moving disaster that is yet not characterized as a natural disaster in most Indian cities (Reuters). Research has identified a significant knowledge and data gap on extreme heat (IIPH), and Indian cities have mobilized few resources to prevent/ manage (Reuters). In Mumbai, heat stress is not an extreme disaster, however with increasing density and temperature, it is increasingly becoming a health hazard for many. Slum dwellers live and work in transient environments with little capacity to influence their environments. There is a need for solutions that investigate and tackle heat as an emerging threat to vulnerable people in urban slum communities in India.
HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?
We started this idea in Brazil in 2014, and held two workshops in Rio de Janeiro and in Porto Alegre in 2015, to evaluate the indicators and gain feedback from beneficiaries. The events brought together city governments, Rio's data collection Institute, and FioCruz, (leading health think tank), slum community leaders, residents and the Civil Defence. The beneficiaries voted on the different indicator categories that were printed and displayed on sheets across the room. Participants used a set number of green and red stickers to vote for the most important (green) and least important (red) indicators, and made new suggestions. Analyzing the results, we were able to prioritize and eliminate indicators, and add suggestions. The feedback helped us make the indicators more relevant to each city’s context, and we are confident that the revised indicators will facilitate better engagement with slum residents.
To understand the relevance and context of the problem of heat stress in slum communities in Mumbai, and gauge the interest in a community based information service like KEEP COOL, we conducted a few interviews with slum residents in Mumbai (video attached). All the residents we spoke to admitted they have little to no information about daily temperatures, and saw heat as a nuisance, not a health threat. With more access to information they would incorporate few preventive measures in their daily life, while ensuring better access to emergency/ daily health care services.
This video is a compilation of a few interviews with outdoor workers and slum residents in Mumbai.
We asked them 5 questions: do you think extreme heat is a life risk? What do you do differently on hot days? Do you know the temperature on any given day? Would a service that provides you with temperature updates and precautionary measures be useful in preparing for extreme heat days? How would it benefit?
Participants in Rio vote on indicators for one of the categories. The Indicators are made up of 10 categories and 38 indicators. For each indicator, we divided the total number of votes by the total number of participants, to identify total percentage of voters who prioritised the indicator as important to measuring resilience. Next, we divided the number of green and red votes per total number of participants to identify the percentage of green/red votes the indicator had received in total.
A local community leader votes on the Individual Resilience Indicators. Green votes indicated that the indicator was important to measuring individual and community resilience. Red votes indicated that the indicator was not important to measuring individual and community resilience and should be eliminated.
The Porto Alegre workshops was attended by community leaders, residents and the Civil Defence amongst other participants. The Civil Defence particularly has an important role to play to work with residents and communities to strengthen their resilience to climate change.
WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?
Slum residents, neighboring communities, and institutions (at ward & city level) will participate in resilience building efforts. Individuals, organizations and institutions will develop short and long term strategies to cope with climate stress and scale this effort from pilot strategies (in one slum community) to policy & institutional levels.
We have reached out to data collection service providers, academic and community based organizations with existing networks in a slum that is exposed to heat stress. Our next steps include, identifying interested government, community based, and private sector partners, build contacts in one slum community, develop surveys and begin data collection.
How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?
Beneficiary feedback revealed that even with climate information slum residents lack the autonomy or authority to plan for, or adapt to climate change. The IRIs promote a systemic approach to managing urban heat stress by connecting data of three different levels: individual, community, and urban. Mumbai is divided into 227 electoral wards headed by Corporators with budgets for ward-level activities. Using the IRIs we will engage Corporators, municipal schools and hospitals and other city bodies through a political influence strategy to address structural inequalities and build urgent action on heat stress. With a strong data-driven evidence base on vulnerability to heat stress, we will help communities develop integrated roadmaps for actions including: short term strategies at community level (heat-aid kiosks), collaborate with job/ housing providers to articulate demands for the mid-term, and work towards long-term Heat Resilience strategies (with Corporators and other stakeholders).