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Fluid engagements: responding to the co-evolution of poverty and climate change in Dhaka, Bangladesh

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Habitat International
Volume47
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)307-314
<mark>State</mark>Published
Early online date17/03/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Most individuals living in low-income households in cities like Dhaka, Bangladesh, reside in informal, high-density settlements that experience exacerbated vulnerabilities from climate change. When determining development approaches that take into account future needs for adaptation, community residents and the professionals and policymakers who support these communities must consider the existing challenges associated with living in poverty, the rapidly increasing rate of urbanization, and future climate risks. The key objectives of this paper are to expand the understanding of the co-evolution of these "wicked problems" and the need for developing alternative strategies for adaptation.

The paper explores the organic creativity of residents living in informal settlements as they draw upon locally available resources to create situation specific, pragmatic solutions to locally defined challenges. We term this practice "fluid engagement," a design approach that aspires to be flexible, situated, pragmatic and participative, and demonstrates a willingness to be open to heterogeneous combinations of purpose and programs. Critically, "fluidity" suggests a participative approach to design that takes into account the "voices" beyond the policy and professional nexus to the participation of the community.

This paper aims to connect emerging literature concerning the urban practices of low-income households in cities of the South with a detailed case-study analysis of the spatial practices at the micro-level in an informal settlement in Dhaka. The paper contributes to a new agenda of architectural and urban-development research that engages with issues of poverty and climate change as a process of co-evolution. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.