Report Local struggles for housing rights final .pdf


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INTRODUCTION

Local struggles for housing rights,
in the context of climate change,
urbanization and environmental
degradation
By Lucy McKernan and Clara-Luisa Weichelt

A

6

fluence in policy-making. Extreme weather events
such as heavy rainfall or heat waves and droughts
can have devastating impacts for people lacking
robust and safe housing and adequate infrastructure and services, such as access to drinking
water or health care.
Further, although they are the most affected,
more often than not poor communities and informal settlement dwellers, do not receive any support to protect themselves from climate change
impacts, health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or to address environmental degradation.
This neglect is often a consequence of not being
recognized as rights-holders by society or the
state. For example, often informal settlement residents are not counted in the official census and
their settlements are
not
specified on officiOften poor communities
al
maps
and land regiare forced to settle on
the banks of rivers or
land that is subject to
flooding.

Local struggles for housing rights, in the context of climate change, urbanization and environmental degradation

Photo: Harms/MISEREOR

cross the world, the right to adequate
housing is under pressure from climate
change, urbanization and environmental
degradation. The urban population is growing,
also because more and more people are moving
to the cities, including as a consequence of climate-related push factors. Today, more than half of
the world’s population lives in cities and 24% of
those live in so called “informal settlements”, characterized by insecurity and extremely poor and
unhealthy conditions. It is estimated that 1-2 billion more people will be living in informal settlements by 2050.
Informal settlement dwellers and people living
in poverty are particularly vulnerable to the increasing impacts of the climate crisis such as natural
disasters, increasingly severe storms and sea
level rise. 14% of city dwellers are living in lowelevation coastal zones and are therefore particularly at risk from flooding. Often poor communities
are forced to settle on precarious land at the
coast, on the banks of rivers or hillsides, or land
that is subject to flooding. This increases their vulnerability to climate-induced disasters such as
mudslides, flooding and extreme storms or slowonset climate impacts such as sea level rise.
Vulnerability factors for informal settlement residents include: the fragile nature of the physical
structures of their homes; the precarious locations in which they are forced to settle; the poor infrastructure and services (e.g.: lack of water and
sanitation services); over-crowding; lack of social
protection; and their lack of political voice and in-


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