Talking vulnerability: The Child in the City

Talking vulnerability: The Child in the City

In the 1970s, India had just adopted its first National Policy for Children. It was to become a hallmark policy among public pronouncement s of countries of the developing world. Among its pledges, it accorded ‘paramount importance’ to the best interests of the child in all matters of dispute.

As of 2013, a new policy replaced the 1974 NPC, and the pledge to paramountacy of children’s best interests was switched with a line acknowledging them as a matter of primary concern.  The new policy, however, did affirm that India will extend its care and protection to ‘all children’ in its territory and jurisdiction. 

In the 1970s, UNICEF headquarters regularly published a periodical called ‘UNICEF News.’ A notable issue carried the banner title ‘The Child in the City.’ It reported eloquently on the uncertainties of childhood in an urban poor setting. There was little good news, quite a number of warnings of the un-protectedness of children of the urban poor, and their growing numbers. Cities, the special issue said, were tending to cater to the rich; steps for their ‘modernisation’ were reducing spaces where the poor could live, and bypassing their need for basic services. Yet, migration into urban areas was growing.   

With this background note, many pertinent questions arise on our understanding of ‘the child in the city’, and the effect of disasters on them. Who are these children of the city?  Why are they more vulnerable? What do we mean by ‘resilience’? Is there more to it than simply ‘being prepared’?

The past few years in the Indian Sub-continent have been marked by aberrations in expected weather patterns. It has rained when it should not, in areas where it ‘normally’ did not, and it has failed to rain when it should, in other areas where it ought to have done so in its traditional season. Floods have broken their own records. Earthquakes are increasing, and choosing new locations. Hill-sides have become unstable, perhaps because of blocked drainage routes. And cities and towns have shown that they cannot cope. Climate change impact is a reality, though hard to say whether it is a cause or an effect.

City administrations add their own mistakes to the blighting of urban areas. The felling of trees has denuded large areas, and unsettled ground spaces that depended on the holding powers of roots and the kindness of green cover. In some parts of the country, water tables have fallen in both fields and city spaces. In other places, water can be tapped just a few feet underground, but the mix of sewage seeping into the ground with the water sources makes its dangerous to use. The fields and forests themselves have fallen to the outward growth of cities and towns. Temperature patterns have been affected. As dust levels as well as air pollution and smog are increasing, so are the risks they pose to health. Many towns and cities are ringed by ‘industrial areas,’ which contribute their own burdens to the viability of urban settlements. The awesome generation and accumulation of waste, and the generally poor disposal mechanisms add filth to other hazards.

Congestion is a serious and oppressive hazard in urban areas, and both construction and settlement are its signs and symptoms. Maintenance programmes and services stand defeated by both un-controlled building and the steady influx of people coming to settle or to seek seasonal work. As older parts of urban settlements become crowded with people who cannot provide or support the upkeep of buildings they occupy, old ownership gives way to squatter occupation, buildings deteriorate and collapse. Many urban dwellers have no roof over their heads. Also among them are children without any adult presence or support in their daily lives.

Risk awareness and risk analysis are one thing, risk prevention another. Risk reduction is yet another, but are we speaking of ‘before’, ‘during’ or ‘after’?  Survivors of risk realities, adults or children, generally have to learn how to cope and to pick up the pieces of their lives. But they do not become vulnerable or needy only when misfortune strikes; they already are.

And protective and caring governance mechanisms require training and orientation firmly grounded in ethics. ‘Resilience’ is to be carefully defined, and the responsibility for “being prepared” like a good ‘Boy Scout,’ should not be assigned primarily to the potential victim of disaster.

The author of this blog is Ms Razia Ismail who is the co-founder and Convenor of the Indian Alliance for Child Rights (IACR). She has served in UNICEF for 23yrs, at Regional and Country Offices. She is a recognised child rights advocacy expert and trainer in India, South Asia and West Asia.

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Children, Cities and Climate Change

Children, Cities and Climate Change

Climate change impacts each one of us, but children are the most vulnerable and consequently the worst affected. Our children are our future; and their well-being, healthy growth and safety must be our top priority. Children are, and will be affected by climate change and disasters; through malnutrition, diseases, physical and psychological trauma, to name just a few. Not only do they have to cope with the direct consequences of climate change, but also suffer its ripple effect on their family and living environment, through loss of habitat and livelihood.

Climate related disasters are not only increasing in frequency and intensity, but will only get worse with time. The stress induced and the adverse impacts of these disasters are both projected to increase, and will impact children, particularly those who are deprived and living in poverty, the most. Heat waves, floods, droughts, sea-level rise, cyclones, landslides are all likely to increase and these will affect all those living here in varied environments in different ways.

The impact on the children will be multi faceted. Schools can get destroyed, education severely impacted, and children taken out of school to contribute to the diminishing household income. Loss of habitat and homes can result in temporary or permanent migration, which again affects education and the well-being of children. Safety and security of children is another major concern that could further be impacted by such events. Thus, climate change will have short and long-term impact on children’s health, education, growth and also their future.

Droughts will not only impact food security, but also result in children dropping out of school to help the family fetch water or contribute to the family income. Fetching water from long distances (a job often thrust on children) can impact children’s health. Scarcity of water can result in the use of contaminated water, leading to water borne diseases and disabilities, which also impacts the growth of children.

Heavy precipitation is causing floods in many urban areas. Young children easily drown in such suddenly created pools of water, walk in the dirty water mixed with sewage and solid waste, get injured and fall ill. Open defecation can further exacerbate problems as fecal matter gets mixed with flood/ stagnant waters and results in serious illnesses. Floods can destroy school buildings, health facilities and infrastructure. Even though the buildings can be repaired post flood, moisture on the walls remains for a long time and can cause respiratory problems amongst children. This makes them vulnerable to other types of diseases too, due to their reduced immunity.

With global warming happening at an unprecedented scale, children will be highly affected by the heat stress, both in schools and at home. Children can suffer heatstroke, fall ill or even die due to extreme heat, exposure to sun, or dehydration. The indirect impacts include faster deterioration of cooked food, limited outdoor physical activity, and malnutrition. Adaptation measures can reduce the adverse impact of heat stress. These include – indoor sports facilities, playgrounds with trees and greenery, school buildings with good ventilation and cool roofs, solar powered fans (to cope with
power shortages during severe summer heat), and recycling wastewater to deal with water scarcity. Use of indigenous earthen wares to keep food safe and water cool, and promotion of traditional architecture to keep houses cool by using local designs, materials and paints, can also help reduce this heat stress.

Children should not be viewed only as recipients who will be impacted by climate change; they can also contribute to adaptation. Older children often have innovative ideas that can tackle problems. They must be consulted and their participation in decision making be encouraged. Their innovations and experiments can provide local level solutions that may be simple and easy to implement. Also, they can act as catalysts, who can change adult behavior and at the same time teach younger children too.

Children today will become adults tomorrow. If we do not focus on the health, education and safety of our children today, we may not be able to reap the demographic dividends of tomorrow. We may have a population that is less productive, a liability for our vision of a developed nation. Therefore, we must take care of the well-being of our children today, for a brighter tomorrow.

Prof Usha P. Raghupathi, the author,  is a retired Professor from National Institute of Urban Affairs.

Regional Conference: Peri-urban Ecosystems for Enhancing Urban Resilience

Regional Conference: Peri-urban Ecosystems for Enhancing Urban Resilience

About the Conference

A Regional Conference on “Peri- Urban Ecosystems for Enhancing Urban Resilience”

The conference will examine various themes including urbanization, managing the peri-urban spaces, maintaining critical natural resources, food-water-livelihood security of poor and marginalized, gender dimensions, political frameworks, and governance
issues exacerbating due to the inevitable drift of cities into periurban areas as well as the challenges of climate change impacts on these vulnerable areas.

In addition, The ICLEI-RUAF CITYFOOD will also be part of this conference which will be open to local and regional governments to develop a strategic approach to their city region food systems. Food provides a vital link between cities and rural communities. It offers a key opportunity for addressing hunger, poverty and unemployment, climate
change impacts and environmental degradation. The CITYFOOD network aims to accelerate local and regional government action on sustainable and resilient city-region food systems by combining networking with training, policy guidance and technical
expertise.

Target Audience
The conference aims to create an interface between urban planners, city leaders (elected representatives), administrators, researchers, academicians, civil society organizations, policy makers, regional and national government officials, multilateral agencies, private sector players and community to debate on how peri-urban areas can be mainstreamed into the development process without jeopardizing the environmental integrity.

Organisers

Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), Gorakhpur and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia in collaboration with
ACCCRN.NET, UNICEF India and School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi India, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation

When

18th and 19th September, 2017

Where

Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India.

Key contact persons

Ms Nivedita Mani
Coordinator
Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group,
A-187, First Floor, Shivalik, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi- 110017, India
T +91 11 41667754
M +91 9818037010
E geagdelhi@geagindia.org

Dr Monalisa Sen
Senior Manager (Sustainability Management)
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia;
C-3, Green Park Extension; New Delhi-110016
T +91 11 4974 7200
M +91 9871747467
E monalisa.sen@iclei.org

For more information

Conserving Peri-Urban Agriculture & Ecosystems to Build Urban Climate Change Resilience in Flood Affected Areas

Conserving Peri-Urban Agriculture & Ecosystems to Build Urban Climate Change Resilience in Flood Affected Areas

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Water Galore

Climate change for the people of Gorakhpur City in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India is not a distant notion. Unseasonal rain, hailstorms and erratic weather have already made it a frightful reality for this city. Rapid urbanization and decreasing capacity of the city to provide basic infrastructure services and other civic amenities are further exacerbated by climate change impacts. The livelihoods of poor inner city as well as the rural migrants living in the fragile peri-urban areas are most severely impacted. Already, the peri-urban areas of Gorakhpur are prone to recurring floods and water-logging for 2 to 3 months every year.

2

Degrading Lungs of the City

The peri-urban ecosystems which act as flood buffers, provide food security to the city dwellers and regulate the micro-climate are degrading day by day due to expansion of city and ensuing land-use changes. Gorakhpur’s peri-urban land is a much coveted space, with the developers, real estate builders and municipal bodies eyeing it as a prime location for the city’s waste, refuse and cheap housing. Standing crops have given way to urban sprawls; farmers turn into labourers and open water bodies morph overnight into shiny new multi-storied buildings. This straining of natural resources, absorption of existing agricultural lands, open green spaces and water bodies on the city’s periphery is disrupting its ability to be resilient to climate change impacts.

3

The Vulnerable Peri-Urban Farmers

For farmers, life turns more chaotic. Agriculture has always been vulnerable to the vagaries of nature, but here the changing climate spells doom for the small and marginal farmers in peri-urban areas. Peri-urban agriculture becomes more expensive as the input costs of seeds and fertilizers are increasing and the net gains are decreasing. In flooded fields and waterlogged land, unsure of whether their crops will yield enough and unable to meet their past debts, many farmers migrate to urban areas in search of other livelihood opportunities. This distressed migration leads to infrastructural development on their agricultural lands, destroying the natural ecosystems there. The consequence of this conversion is the decreased “Food Resilience” of the city as the peri-urban agriculture is a major source of vegetables and fruits for the city dwellers.

4

Innovations in the peri-urban agriculture

Conservation of peri-urban agriculture and ecosystems by innovative farming techniques and adoption of climate resilient agriculture is central to build resilience to climate change for the entire urban area. Use of flood resilient crop varieties which can sustain in water-logged fields, loft framing, mixed farming and adoption of integrated farming methods help the farmers fight climate change. So, with more food produced in the peri-urban areas, better profits are made in the ready market available in the city itself. This flood resilient agriculture helps these peri-urban farmers become more robust, and simultaneously enhances the livelihood security of the vulnerable groups and ensures food security of the urban poor.

5

Community-based Approach

City’s expansion in the peri-urban land is also degrading the common property resources like pasture lands, ponds, lakes and open green spaces. The common property resources play an important role in enhancing the city’s resilience to climate change, especially the flood resilience. Besides adapting the innovative farming techniques, the small and marginal farmers from peri-urban villages of Gorakhpur have come forward for the protection of these common property resources by forming small community groups and advocating to stop illegal encroachments.

Cities cannot operate in isolation but within a ‘sphere of dependence’ on surrounding peri-urban areas and their ecosystems. It is of utmost importance to conserve peri-urban agriculture and ecosystems as they give multiple benefits including livelihood security of small and marginal peri-urban farmers as well as ensure food and flood resilience for the urban dwellers contributing to urban climate change resilience on the whole.

A recently formed group ‘Urban, Peri-Urban and Ecosystems Working Group’ looks at how nature can help improve urban resilience and help mitigate the impact of natural or manmade disasters. You are welcome to join this initiative, which hopes to be a learning platform for exchange of ideas and experiences across the various landscapes.

ACCCRN partners, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), Mercy Corps Indonesia and Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation, look at critical themes here, to be able to undertake joint advocacy initiatives in a collective form.

Click here to register

You may also write to us with any related queries or for further information at  info@geagindia.org . We look forward to your feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Peri-urban issues

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Peri-urban issues

By 2030, one in every three people will live in cities. The impact of this on the cities and its infrastructures will be enormous. In such a scenario, the peripheral land around these cities becomes important both in terms of opportunities and vulnerabilities.

Here is a compilation of simple queries to understand peri-urban aspects better.

  1.      What is understood by peri-urban areas?

The dictionary defines peri-urban as an area immediately surrounding a city or town. Generally used in a narrow, geographical sense, it is used to describe the informal settlements that adjoin cities, a hybrid landscape where activities of the rural and urban population often juxtapose without any clear cut demarcations. Thus, they are neither truly urban nor rural, but occupy a space between the two, in such a way that urban and rural features co-exist here.

Peri-urban may be thus understood as a fast-changing, semi-natural ecosystem which provides natural resources for growing cities while depending on the urban markets for sales and employment. It is a two-way interaction that places a low premium on preserving the ecosystem, affecting not only the livelihoods of those directly dependent on it but also the city itself.[i]

  1.      What is the definition of peri-urban areas?

Achieving a precise and accurate definition of peri-urban is a challenging task and there is no clear cut consensus on the actual definition of the word. Not clearly definable, given the contextual and situational specificities involved, in most parts of the world peri-urban spaces are rapidly expanding and being occupied by increasing numbers of people (Dutta, 2012; McGregor et al., 2005; Kayser, 1990). In reality it is a complex, dynamic, transitional space whose boundaries are in flux, dependent upon various factors; often conceptualised as:

  • The transitional zone between a sprawling city and its rural surroundings (Dutta, 2012)
  • ‘neither rural nor urban in its outlook and characteristics’ (Prakash, 2012 : 2)

For a glimpse of the complexity and topical nature of this definition, here are a few of the more established usages:

  • Complex mosaics of juxtaposed activities previously regarded as incompatible: Simon (2008)
  • An ‘uneasy phenomenon’ characterised by ‘either the loss of rural aspects (loss of fertile soil, agricultural land, natural landscape, etc.) or the lack of urban attributes (low density, lack of accessibility, lack of services and infrastructure, and ‘lack of urban attributes’: Allen (2003)
  •  ‘Peri-urban’ used as a term qualifying areas with mixed rural and urban features: (Laquinta, D., L, Drescher, A., W, 2001)
  •  Peri-urban interface is often described “not [as] a discrete area, but rather [as] a diffuse territory identified by combinations of features and phenomena, generated largely by activities within the urban zone proper’: Nottingham and Liverpool Universities, 1998 
  1.      What characteristics make peri-urban areas both distinct and vulnerable?

Urban does not stop or rural begin, immediately at the edge of a city. These areas on one hand have great potential, but they also face crippling disadvantages due to certain primary characteristics. They are typified by mixed agricultural and non-agricultural land uses and flows of goods, services and resources between villages and urban centres and a perpetually changing heterogeneous social population. This leads to specific environmental and natural resource problems beyond the scope of urban or rural governments individually which need innovative approaches (Prakash, 2012, Narain, 2010; Allen, 2003).[ii]

Peri-urban areas generally are characterised as :

  • A transition zone
  • A crowded, contested space
  • Very vulnerable
  • Sites of rapid growth
  • Neither geographically nor conceptually well-defined
  • No clear cut government policies defined
  • Environmentally more unstable than rural or urban areas
  • Face uncertain land tenures
  • Have inferior infrastructure, low incomes
  1.      What are the issues faced by peri-urban areas?

People living in the peri-urban areas are often at the forefront of major issues, that include the following:

  •         Depleting resources like water, forests, open green lands
  •         Degraded environment
  •         Intense pressure on land, resources & existing ecosystems
  •         Lack of adequate services like sanitation, transport or water supply
  •         Used as dumping grounds for city’s waste
  •         Degradation of agricultural land
  •         Rapid land use change
  •         Human health issues
  •         Social impact as occupations change
  •         Non farm use of agricultural land
  •         Deteriorating quality of life
  •         Deforestation
  •         Pollution
  •         Non-existent mechanisms for public service deliveries
  1.      What services does a peri-urban ecosystem provides to people?

Ecosystem services provided by a peri-urban areainclude the following:

  • Supporting services: Ecosystem services ‘that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services’ (MEA, 2005: 40) such as nutrient dispersal and cycling, seed dispersal, primary production.
  • Provisioning services: Products obtained from the ecosystems such as food, fuel and water, fodder, fibres, genetic resources, medicines, energy or ornamental products. Asian Cities Climate Resilience 7
  • Regulating services: ‘Benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes’ (ibid) such as carbon sequestration and climate regulation, waste decomposition and detoxification, water and air purification, natural hazard mitigation, pest and disease control or erosion control.
  • Cultural services: ‘Nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences’ (ibid).[i]
  1. What is peri-urbanisation?

When urban grows disorderly and sprawls to peri-urban area, this process can be referred as peri-urbanisation. It is also defined as the processes of dispersive urban growth that creates hybrid landscapes of fragmented urban and rural characteristics.

Peri-urbanisation also leads to usurpation of ecologically sensitive lands for housing and other construction activities. These change the face of agriculture, reduce open spaces, enhances pressure on natural resources like water. These areas are marked by a lack of hygiene and sanitation infrastructure, industrial effluence, air pollution and inadequate provision of basic services. Often, the solid waste of a city is dumped in peri-urban areas (Marshall et al., 2009:7).[i]

  1.      How are urban and peri-urban areas interdependent on each other?

Peri-urban areas depend on urban areas for schools, hospitals and government services, improved infrastructure facilities and better employability avenues. The peri-urban areas provide larger land holdings, cheap labour, agricultural produce and fresh food to those living in urban centres. This changing reality increases the movement of people, goods and services between the two. Agriculture in peri-urban areas helps in alleviating food insecurity and is also instrumental in enhancing the nutritional status of the marginalised or the urban poor.

  1.      What types of environmental degradation occurs in peri-urban areas?

These areas of hurried expansion and development face the following environmental challenges:

  •         Threat to existing ecosystems
  •         Groundwater depletion and contamination
  •         Dwindling natural resources
  •         Urban heat islands
  •         Ungoverned solid waste management and disposal
  •         Increased air quality pollution
  1.      What are the areas of conflict between the two?

Peri-urban areas are usually subject to a whirlwind of construction activity in a short span of time. The drastic land use change coupled with divergent interests may lead to land dispute or conflict. Also, these zones being cheaper and generally under tenuous regulations, offer an alternative for informal settlements around the city.

  1.   Who is responsible for peri-urban areas?

There is no official term ‘ peri-urban’ in the government’s dictionary. No parameters identify it, and they are neither recognized as a space or a social unit. They do not fall within the city’s official jurisdiction and lack critical infrastructure and governance systems. They are thus not served by any municipality to provide basic services, nor are a priority for departments dealing with rural development. Hence, these areas become nobody’s children; and no one bears responsibility for them. [iv]

10. What is urban climate change resilience (UCCR)?

UCCR is understood as the capacity of cities to function, so that the people living and working in cities— particularly the poor and vulnerable—survive and thrive in the face of shocks and stresses related to climate change. [ii]

Urban resilience to climate change describes a city that is resilient on three levels: the systems of the city survives shocks and stresses; the people and organisations are able to accommodate these stresses into their day-to-day decisions; and that the city’s institutional structures continue to support the capacity of people and organisations to fulfil their aims.

The Rockefeller Foundation defines urban resilience as the capacity of cities (individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems) to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it.

  1.  How can peri-urban areas contribute to UCCR?

Peri-urban areas and their ecosystems provide essential services that contribute towards climate change resilience in the following ways:

  •         Open spaces act as buffer during floods
  •         Helps in water drainage and infiltration thereby preventing waterlogging & improving groundwater recharge
  •         Green space improve flood retention capacity
  •         Ecosystems services
  •         Agriculture of peri-urban green space as flood retention
  •         Social cultural values
  •         Livelihoods options
  •         Water bodies provide water management options
  •         Multifunctional land use improves conservation and resilience
  •         Bio diversity abundance
  1.  Should I be concerned about peri-urban dynamics?

The number of urban dwellers is growing by 2 per cent a year globally. So whether you live in a city or near it, you will be affected by this rapid rate of urbanisation taking place around you in some way or the other. Rural migration to cities, air quality, loss of empty, green spaces; these and many more will affect residents like you and the environment around them. And inclusion of the climate change factor increases the need to become more resilient.

  1.  How can I know more about what’s happening in this space?

There is a huge amount of interest to understand how peri-urban ecosystems function, what are the services they provide, and why are they important for political economy and sustainable growth.

A recently formed group ‘Urban, Peri-Urban and Ecosystems Working Group’ looks at how nature can help improve urban resilience and help mitigate the impact of natural or manmade disasters. You can join this initiative, which hopes to be a learning platform for exchange of ideas and experiences across the various landscapes. ACCCRN partners, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), Mercy Corps Indonesia and Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation, look at critical themes here, to be able to undertake joint advocacy initiatives in a collective form.

Click here to register.

  1.  Can I share information or issues with the working Group?

The working Group has been set up for sharing of information and ideas between individuals, organisations and varied places. For this, you will need to register first.

You may also write to us with any related queries or for further information at  info@geagindia.org . We look forward to your feedback.

References:

[i]  Mitra, A., Wajih, S and Singh, B., 2015. Wheezing ecosystems, livelihood services and climate change resilience in Uttar Pradesh.  ACCCRN Working Paper Series 18.

[ii] ADB, 2014. Urban Climate change: A synopsis

[iii] Urban Climate Change Resilience in Action: Lessons from Projects in 10 ACCCRN Cities

[iv] Omair Ahmad, The Third Pole, 2016; Climate resilience in peri-urban areas

Urban sprawls and frayed ecosystems

Urban sprawls and frayed ecosystems

As urban population continues to grow, peri-urban areas become the logical choice for additional housing, infrastructure and associated activities. Most  of the times this space is regarded as a ‘solution in waiting’ to the growing clamour for a city’s rapid development, one that can be casually bulldozed over.  Open fields are concretised; flood plains built over; and small, marginalised farms lost to the greater need of an urban sprawl.

And here, it is the existing ecosystems in this peri-urban space that bear the brunt of this unhindered spread. The ecosystems and their services are lost in the booming real estate din. The ‘extractive‘ nature of urbanisation places a low premium on preserving the ecosystem; and people’s livelihoods and the city, both are greatly affected.  Most often, peri-urbanisation eventually leads to the usurpation of this ecologically sensitive land.

What happens next? The face of agriculture changes, open space reduces and pressure on natural resources increases. These areas are then marked by a lack of hygiene and sanitation infrastructure, industrial effluence, air pollution and inadequate provision of basic services. Very often, the city’s solid waste too is dumped in these peri-urban areas.

But we forget that it is these ecosystems that help provide a city with essential services. The fresh vegetables and fruit on your table, the clean air, places that uplift you emotionally and spiritually; these are just some of the many benefits that a city derives from its peripheral areas. In addition, they enhance the redundancy and flexibility of urban systems, and help ensure that any failures are ‘safe failures’ so as to minimise future damages

Also, contemporary land acquisition policies disregard social equity and environmental integrity, undermining a city’s capacity to adapt to climate change and rendering the peri-urban areas and poorer populations more vulnerable. Environmental degradation, natural resource conflicts, health concerns and social injustice are particularly acute in these peri-urban areas that are excluded in formal planning processes.

Can a city strengthen itself? Yes, it helps if it follows an ecosystem-based approach to urban climate change adaptation and resilience. And it is only when people are rooted in their original habitat, but with total access to their development rights as well as basic needs, that they are able to preserve the ecosystem, so vital to the health and also the resilience of a city.

Thus, protecting ecosystems and ecosystem services in peri-urban areas is essential to the survival of the poor and to enhance the city’s resilience. Central to a systems approach is the protection of urban and peri-urban agriculture. Peri-urban areas cannot be viewed as ‘waiting rooms‘ for entry to urban areas. What is needed is a fundamental change in mindsets, to prevent further land-use changes and unregulated construction activities.

For example, in Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh (India) where we work, peri-urban areas are conceptualised as those villages that are included in the city’s master plan. The term peri-urban is not used, which means that the social, economic, ecological and administrative changes occurring in these villages, as distinct from those villages that are strictly rural, are ignored. This has led to many changes, not necessarily for good.

Has this been your experience too? Share with us your insights on the ecosystems in the peri-urban areas around you. 

  1. Has rapid urbanisation in your city led to the degradation of peri-urban ecosystems?
  2. What has been the counter effect of this degradation on the city and its people? And the repercussions on the peri-urban population?
  3. Do you believe that your city’s resilience capacity has been affected? How so?

This blog was first published by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, ACCCRN, here and talks of the increasing degradation of Peri-urban Ecosystems and their declining vital ecosystem services, which help build resilience in cities.

We invite you to please share your experiences from your countries and regions so that we can together understand these peri-urban ecosystems and their relevance in a better way. 

Join us at our Urban, Peri-Urban and Ecosystems Working Group, where we exchange ideas and experiences and undertake joint advocacy initiatives in a collective form,  to map the diversity of problems between cities and landscapes, and the real and potential scale of loss & damage.

 

No stink no more: DEWATs in Gorakhpur

No stink no more: DEWATs in Gorakhpur

The heat is on and water pangs are already being felt across southern India. With summer just around the corner, frayed tempers and water conflicts seem to be on the rise; and the clamour for water worsens. As per a latest report, India tops the list of having the largest number of people living in rural areas without access to clean water. These whopping 63 million Indians, nearly as many as all the people living in the United Kingdom, spend hours queuing up for water, coping with the ill health of using contaminated water.

Even as agriculture and irrigation use up the largest chunk of fresh water; almost 90% of wastewater flows untreated into rivers, lakes and coastal zones: threatening health, food security and polluting water bodies.

Can this water wastage be reduced? Or can the water be atleast safely treated and reused? The World Water Day 2017 resonate this simple query: Why waste water?

And Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur city is echoing exactly that! Under the glittering hoardings and frenzied activity, its peri-urban area refuses to be a willing sewage receptacle for the city’s waste. The locals have joined forces, and reinforced their resources and strengths. With the help of ‘Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System or DEWATS’, they have begun to treat the waste water from their homes, before releasing it into the fields and rivers.

No longer a ‘dumping, stinking backyard’ for the cities waste, this peri-urban area is now what it should be for its people- a home and a haven.

To know more of this initiative, watch this film supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) .