Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Climate change, vulnerability and adaptive social protection: innovation and practice among migrant workers in Indian cities

Surinder Jaswal, Sunil D Santha, Annu Kuruvilla, Kaushik Datta, Devisha Sasidevan, Ajmal Khan

Asian Cities Climate Resilience Working Paper Series 20



This paper explores the significance of adaptive social protection in building urban resilience in the context of vulnerability to climate change and health inequities among migrant workers in the urban informal sector in India. Through case studies of three Indian cities — Kochi, Surat and Mumbai — the paper analyses the status of vulnerability and social protection among these workers. It further examines the nature of innovative projects that have emerged in the context of risk reduction, climate change adaptation and public health care systems in the respective cities. This paper then outlines the scope and role of social work in addressing the challenges of climate change and health inequities. A mixed methodology approach organized in three phases was designed to carry out the study. In the first phase, data from 50 migrants in each of the three cities were collected using a semi-structured interview schedule. In the second phase, data from 42 experts comprising medical practitioners, social workers, government officials and activists were collected. In the third phase, the findings from the first two phases were presented in workshops to social workers, community workers, academics and research scholars. The suggestions provided by the participants of these workshops were incorporated into the larger discussions of this paper. The findings demonstrate that social workers and development practitioners have a very important role to play in strengthening urban resilience to climate change and addressing social vulnerabilities.


Available at http://pubs.iied.org/10737IIED.html


Further reading:

Kovats, Sari S, Simon Lloyd and Noah Scovronick (2014), “Climate and health in informal urban settlements”, Human Settlements working paper, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 56 pages, available at http://pubs.iied.org/10719IIED.html.

Santha, Sunil D, Surinder Jaswal, Devisha Sasidevan, Kaushik Datta, Annu Kuruvilla and Ajmal Khan (2015), “City adaptation strategies: recognising livelihood struggles of migrant workers in India”, Asian Cities Climate Resilience Working Paper Series 19, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 29 pages, available at http://pubs.iied.org/10736IIED.html.

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