7.9 Module I: Urbanization and cities

A detailed case study of an urban and disaster preparedness project with gender mainstreaming practices and results can be found in Case Study H from Bangladesh.

7.9.1 Introduction

Cities, especially in developing countries, are on the front lines of climate change impacts. These impacts range from an increase in extreme weather events and flooding to increased air temperatures and public health concerns. Climate change affects both human well-being and the economy, threatening the livelihoods and assets of people living in cities. Most vulnerable to these impacts are poor residents, the elderly, women, children, and communities living on the margins of society.[41]
The people most at risk are slum dwellers, which include an increasing proportion of female-headed households. While the world’s urban population is expected to rise to 60 percent by 2030 (6.4 billion people)[42]
and to 70 percent by 2050, cities are expected to be increasingly subject to the consequences of climate change. Urban poverty continues to grow. The number of slum dwellers increased from 767 million in 2000 to 828 million in 2010.[43]
Under climate stress, local economies are likely to be disrupted and populations risk being stripped of their assets and livelihoods.

The impacts of climate change will be particularly severe in low-elevation coastal zones, where many of the world’s largest cities are located. Although they account for only 2 percent of the world’s total land area, approximately 13 percent of the world’s urban population lives in these zones—with Asia having a higher concentration. According to the
Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index, seven cities are at “extreme risk,”out of a list of 50 that were chosen for their current and future importance to global business. Dhaka, Bangladesh (ranked 1), Manila, Philippines (2), Bangkok, Thailand (3), Yangon, Myanmar (4), Jakarta, Indonesia (5), Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam (6), and Kolkata, India (7). These seven cities emerged as the most at risk from the changing temperatures and weather systems that are forecast to take hold in the coming years.

The vulnerability of cities also stems from the poverty of their populations and the poor capacity of governments to undertake local adaptation measures to combat the potential effects of climate change.[44]
The challenge of CCA is particularly formidable in large and densely populated cities as they cover a wide range of infrastructure and services (housing, transport, energy, water, sanitation), ecosystems, and economic activities, including commerce and industry.

7.9.2 Gender issues for urbanization and cities

Immigration of poor rural women and men who flee poverty and at times conflicts is the main cause for the rapid growth of cities in developing countries
. Although men migrate to cities largely in search of employment, women migrate both for jobs and for safety. Both women and men settle in precarious marginal lands (hillsides or flood plains) with limited or no tenure rights. Slum dwellers constitute today about 33 percent of the world’s urban population. All slum dwellers are affected by poor living conditions, but women and girls suffer most. Shelter deprivation, lack of access to water, sanitation, public transport, and employment opportunities are areas where gender disparities are significant.[45]

Women are greater risk than men to access decent shelter and sanitation, and safe water

  • Female-headed households, which make up 20 percent of urban households in the 160 countries surveyed by UN-Habitat for its State of the World’s Cities Report 2008–2009, relative to men-headed households, lack durable housing and have insufficient living space, poor access to clean water, and inadequate sanitation. They are often denied tenure rights as they have no collateral, and are more at risk of eviction. Without tenure, they cannot get access to electricity, water, or sewage connections.
  • Women and girls typically are responsible for fetching water when supply is poor. This can take hours out of their day, reducing time for education, employment, childcare, and rest. When relatives become sick because of poor hygiene, it is also women and girls who bear the greatest burden of care.
  • A lack of separate-sex toilet facilities in schools, including those in informal settlements and shelters, can cause girls to miss classes, drop out of school in adolescence, or abstain from going to shelters at times of evacuations.

Women have lesser access than men to education, formal employment mobility
. With limited cash income, long distances to public transport, and vehicles crowded with men, women have limited opportunities to seek employment in wealthier neighborhoods. In cities like Rio de Janeiro, low-income men commute to their job at the beginning and end of the week;they sleep in the streets during the week as they cannot afford to return to their neighborhood;it is too risky for women to do the same.

Women stay longer in the vicious circle of poverty.
Because they cannot access formal employment, poor illiterate women stay longer in poverty. Women cannot benefit from literacy and skill development training offered by enterprises. Illiteracy and lack of skills block opportunities for accessing higher-paying jobs. As a result, women and children of female-headed households remain longer in poverty than men.

7.9.3 Gender-urbanization and cities issues in the context of climate change

The impact of climate change on women and men compounds on prevailing gender disparities in urban settings.

An increasing number of rural women and men can be expected to move to urban areas at least in part due to climate change impacts affecting their rural communities
. Increasing food and water scarcity due to climate change in rural areas may accelerate the dramatic rural migrations in the developing world where urban areas offer access to the cash economy (rather than subsistence farming) and can make it easier to access services. However, rapid and unplanned urbanization has serious implications for urban welfare.

  • High population densities and high contact rates help to spread disease, such as dengue fever in India.
  • The effect of climate change-related migration on women and gender dynamics is complex. Women left behind by male migrants may experience more autonomy and have greater decision-making power because they become
    de facto
    household heads after their husbands migrate. However, they may become poorer and more vulnerable (lack of labor, inability to mobilize labor on account of social taboos, uncertainty of remittances), before migrating themselves to urban areas as a solution of last resort.[46]

Climate change increases the vulnerability of women and men living in urban areas.
Since 1975, there has been a fourfold increase in urban natural disasters, 70 percent of which were related to climate change. Disasters do not affect all income groups equally. Wealthy households live in better-built housing, and recover faster, as they can draw on their savings. As female-headed households are amongst the poorest, they are even more at risk of climate change related natural disasters than men-headed households.

Poor women and men tend to have lower rates of participation in decision-making and disaster-management activities.
The higher death rates of women (three-times higher than men’s) suggest that poor women are even more vulnerable than poor men. Women, especially poor women, tend to less informed and trained about disaster prevention and responsiveness measures.

Women are more at risk of domestic violence and sexual harassment during calamities
. Poor women and men scramble to find food, fuels, lighting;poor women find it even more difficult to find materials to rebuild their homes.
Women, when given the opportunity, can bring their leadership and management skills as change agents on CCA, and contribute to reducing the vulnerability of their communities.
Poor urban women bring the knowledge, ecosystem management experience, and negotiating skills they used in rural settings. Building up on their experience as courageous risk-takers, a large number of women become community leaders in urban slums. Initiatives such as the one developed in Bangladesh in villages can be equally effective in flood-prone small cities or neighborhoods of large urban centers (see Box 37).

Box 37. Women lead CCA and Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh

This women-centered initiative helps communities in Bangladesh adapt to climate change by addressing extreme weather conditions such as cyclones and flooding, as well as the consequence of increased salinity conditions in agriculture in Bangladesh. The initiative, which is implemented by ActionAid Bangladesh, brings together groups of women who lead vulnerability assessments of climate risks and then identify action plans. The same groups of women implement the plans. As a result, improved cooking-stoves were installed in 110 households, 10 temporary dams were built to preserve fresh water for irrigation and reduce salinity in the land, and a raised cluster village was created for landless families in flood-prone areas. Scalability is a key element of this initiative, which channeled resources to the local government to enhance its capacity. The initiative facilitates dialogue between communities and the local government to ensure that the good practices piloted by the women-led groups are scaled up.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 2013a. Momentum for change: Lighthouse activities. UNFCCC, Bonn. http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/7159.php

7.9.4 Gender entry points for CCA urbanization and cities projects

The process of adapting to climate change and building the resilience of cities and citizens is complex. It requires an intricate set of measures to secure the urban infrastructure against climatic events, to grow the urban economy in order to afford the cost of adaptation, to reduce poverty amongst the most vulnerable groups, and empower women and men to manage climate-related disasters. CCA projects may cover a wide array of interventions, from initial diagnostic of the needs and priorities for adaptation to the design of strategies and plans, the implementation of specific interventions, forging networks and partnerships for success, and monitoring and reporting results and outcomes.

Preparing gender-sensitive assessments of needs and priorities.
Mapping the physical and socioeconomic vulnerabilities of cities is the first entry-point to identify gender differences on women’s and men’s vulnerability to climate change.

  • Participatory assessments
    with strong participation of women and men, neighborhood grassroots groups, male and female business representatives, and opinion leaders will ensure a broad-based collection of perspectives on risks, potential objectives, and options to reduce those risks. One of the challenges is to plan adaptation options for the possibility of much more substantial climate change impacts than currently anticipated in the next decades.
  • Adaptation of current city plans
    may be needed as a result of the vulnerability assessments.
  • Capacity building
    in gender-sensitive climate adaptation of city leadership (elected city officials and staff) is essential and can be undertaken at the same time as the vulnerability assessment. This includes developing political support (i.e., high-level commitment to adaptation), hence the need for equal representation of women and men at the political level;understanding the specific needs of women and men;and operational knowledge of new rules and norms of city operations for climate change management (zoning, construction standards for housing and other infrastructure). It also includes relationships to city and external actors who may need to be involved in adaptation efforts;scientific expertise or competency to advise decision-makers;and explaining investment needs, costs, financing options (tax and other instruments, economic stimulus programs/activities). Box 38 summarizes programs in urban CCA planning in Asia.

    Box 38. Resources for urban CCA planning

    PAKLIM, an Indonesian-German program, is offering an integrated climate action planning framework for Indonesian cities, intended to build the internal capacity of city officials to incorporate climate change into the design and implementation of their day-to-day business.

    The Asian Cities Adapt partnership is working with eight cities in the Philippines and India to conduct local vulnerability assessments and subsequently develop concrete adaptation strategies. ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability coordinates the project, in conjunction with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Indian Institute of Technology—Delhi, and the University of the Philippines.

    ICLEI/Europe. 2011. Asian cities adapt. http://www.asian-cities-adapt.org/

Developing gender-sensitive city-based adaptation strategies and activities.
Few cities in the developing world have adopted CCA strategies. Experience from developed countries underlines the importance of engaging local communities in developing the vision
where they want their future development to go and find ways to relate climate change responses to urban development aspirations. Engaging women and men in decision-making on the formulation of strategies is key to success. Examples of tools are provided in Box 39.

Box 39. Engaging women and men and community groups in adaptation

A number of communication products and platforms can be used to engage residents and community groups in the development of adaptation strategies, if they have not already been engaged in the assessment process. Objectives can include (1) building awareness among women and men regarding climate impacts that their city faces; (2) informing women and men about adaptation plans, policies, and actions that the city proposes to undertake in order to meet these threats and ensure their well-being; (3) inviting the involvement of women and men in the decision-making process by soliciting their ideas and inputs; and (4) suggesting how actions taken by individuals and groups can contribute toward the city’s resilience. Some of the approaches include the following:

  • Communication products, such as pamphlets, that identify the climate vulnerabilities of the city and proposed adaptation activities and actions, as well as indicate where citizens can find more information and how they can get involved. Maps of vulnerability can be visually effective in communicating the local areas most likely to be affected by climate change.
  • Consultations in which adaptation plans are discussed, with reference to corresponding climate change impacts.
  • Meetings, potentially facilitated by NGOs, in different and diverse parts of a city.
  • Local media, social networks, and popular gathering places to spread climate change awareness and reach large audiences.

World Bank. 2011a. Guide to climate change adaptation in cities. World Bank, Washington, DC.
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTURBANDEVELOPMENT/Resources/336387- 1318995974398/GuideClimChangeAdaptCities.pdf

Screening adaptation strategies through the gender lens and preparing a GAP is an effective way to ensure gender equity
. Adaptation activities in cities are strongly anchored in infrastructure, and can provide employment opportunities for women and men: flood protection measures, soil stabilization through tree planting, drainage works, and others are all labor intensive tasks. The GAP can specify terms of employment, such as minimum quotas for female workers, provision of child-care close to work sites, and equal pay for equal work. Retrofitting existing infrastructure or building new infrastructure is complex is costly and may imply relocation of residents. The GAP can also record goals for equal representation of women and men on implementation committees, gender-equity in resettlement/ relocation plans, and equal access to improved housing and services.

Including provisions for the promotion of infrastructure-related and other micro-enterprises can be an effective way of stimulating pro-poor economic development from CCA projects
(Box 40
. Lessons from post-disaster reconstruction efforts in Aceh, Indonesia, demonstrate that well-done strategies can allow women to have land-tenure and housing rights, appropriately designed toilets, and representation.[47]

Another example is the development of women-owned solar home system businesses;these are effective in reducing the demand for thermal-generated network electricity while creating income and employment opportunities for women.[48]

Box 40. Community-based microclimate resilience

This approach helps urban poor communities in Gorakhpur, India, adapt to climate change by designing and building new types of flood-resilient and affordable houses. The Mahewa ward of Gorakhpur, India, is prone to flooding during the monsoon season, affecting more than one million people in Uttar Pradesh. Many of the people who live in this community are poor and marginalized and are therefore more vulnerable to the impact of climatic hazards, such as floods, cyclones, altered rain patterns, and heat waves. Locally available bricks are used, with technologies and techniques that make building brick walls less energy intensive. This building method is more environmentally friendly than conventional practices, both in terms of optimization of resources and energy efficiency. Climate-friendly construction techniques use 19 percent fewer bricks and 54 percent less cement mortar; bricks from local areas are used in construction, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting bricks long distances. People who benefit from the project are involved in the construction process and then help others who want to adopt the design.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 2013a. Momentum for change: Lighthouse activities. UNFCCC, Bonn. http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/7159.php

Implementing gender-sensitive CCA strategies.
Implementing gender-sensitive CCA strategies is not necessarily easy. Good intentions do not always become reality unless strong political commitment to gender is maintained and accountability systems are in place.

  • Gender budgeting of implementation plans is an effective tool to maintain momentum. The experience with gender budgeting from cities like Curitiba in Brazil has demonstrated that women and men’s priorities can be adequately integrated during budget consultations. The annual budget vote by the city council has to first explain the gender results from the previous year.
  • Local governance, with proper accountability and transparency, is facilitated with adequate gender balance amongst elected municipal officials and staff.
  • Independent NGO monitoring of adaptation plans and activities is also an effective tool to monitor that the poor, marginalized groups, women, and men actually equitably benefit and contribute to implementing adaptation plans.

Building strong gender-equitable social and institutional relationships.

Building resilience requires not only robust decision-making by those in positions of formal authority, but also a strong web of institutional and social relationships that can provide a safety net for vulnerable populations.[49]

This also requires:

  • Enhancing coordination and streamlining between sector and administrative entities (e.g., to make sure that decisions by one city to protect coastal areas with barriers do not have impacts on basins that are suppliers of fresh water, or wetland ecologies that are important to the economic base of that city or other cities inland and would in term impact the welfare of women and men in those cities).
  • Developing partnerships with the private sector to share risks (e.g., national governments can work with private insurance providers to offer gender-equitable protection to each city without requiring each to make a sizeable).
  • Developing strong partnerships with communities and NGOs, in particular to create economic activity for women and men around CCA projects, to ensure that women have access to information, training, and decision-making on adaptation and disaster-risk management, and to ensure that in case of disaster, information, and evacuation modalities will take into account women’s vulnerabilities.

7.9.5 Monitoring gender impacts

Measurement, reporting, and verification are important steps in evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of gender equity in a CCA effort. Demonstrating that a gender-equitable adaptation action or suite of actions has minimized vulnerability, reduced risk, and increased adaptive capacity for both women and men helps to inform future decisions and satisfy taxpayers and funders.

Results areas and indicators[50]
can be derived from the initial vulnerability assessments, for example:

  • Trends in the percentage and location of land area known to have informal settlements with inferior infrastructure, including flood or landslide protection works
  • Number of women and men living in a floodplain or in a low-elevation coastal zone
  • Trends in the availability of climate resilient shelters, including quality of construction, percent of homes without air conditioning, natural cooling, or heating in a city expected to experience more days of extreme high/low temperatures
  • Existence of a cohesive social network in an informal settlement, including strong communications channels in times of crisis
  • Trends in women and men’s economic resilience (incomes and savings).

Impact evaluation areas would address:

  • Sustained improvements in the quality of life
  • Reduction in morbidity of women, men of different age groups due to lack of quality water and sanitation
  • Reduction in mortalities of women, men of different age groups in case of climate-related disaster
  • Increased self-reliance of cities and their communities to manage climate change, in terms of financial resources, governance, partnerships, information systems, and disaster-response capacity.

Examples of gender-sensitive intervention areas and monitoring and impact indicators are in Table 14.

TABLE 14. Illustrative gender indicators for urban CCA projects
Intervention Area Illustrative Indicators
Consultation inclusiveness No. and percentage of men and women, by social group, consulted about project plans

No. of information documents designed with gender-sensitive information

No. of gender-sensitive information and consultations sessions:

  • No. of gender-sensitive technical information sessions e.g. on clean water and sanitation technologies
  • No. and content of gender and climate change radio programs
Improving gender balance of staff, partners or clients/client groups Percentage of men and women for target group
Active participation Number and percentage of men and women, actively participating in consultations, workshops, and committee meetings
Leadership No. of women and men on city councils and committees, and in what position (member or heads)

No. of women-led urban initiatives

Economic Status Women’s and men’s annual income from employment in urban infrastructure and services

Women’s and men’s annual income from other economic activities and businesses

Gender-equitable access to land, housing, utility and other services No. of neighborhoods mapped in cadastral surveys

No. of joint (husband and wife) land/housing titles granted

No. of titles to female-headed households

Gender-sensitive design of community facilities (e.g., water and sanitation) in poor neighborhoods

Nontraditional practices or roles adopted Employment in urban infrastructure construction, operation and maintenance (housing, street construction, flood protection, etc.): examples of indicators:

  • No. of women and men employed, skilled and unskilled (especially during and after extreme weather events)
  • Wage parity between women and men
  • No child labor
  • Availability of childcare close to worksites
  • No. of women and youth employed in female-owned urban infrastructure businesses (street cleaning, O&M of infrastructure)

Women and men’s after sunset activities

Women’s status changes by household or community Proxy measures related to relative roles, by sex, in household expenditure decisions or incorporation of women’s priorities into group or community plans
Disaster Warning Systems No. of women and men trained on evacuation procedures
Service provided Percentage of men and women using various municipal services and service companies
Inclusive service provided Transport tariff adjustments for (poor) female-headed households
Client satisfaction Satisfaction level changes with:

  • Skill acquisition and training. Indicators

—No. of women and men in skills training sessions for urban infrastructure works and services

—No. of women and men in business training on urban infrastructure and services productive activities

—No. of women and men trained on climate adaptation for city management

  • Health (from better housing and access to health services). Indicators:

—Sex-disaggregated statistics on morbidity and mortality from CC-related (vector-borne) diseases and extreme events

— Statistics on women’s and men’s respiratory illnesses

  • Availability, reliability, safety, and affordability of climate resilient urban infrastructure and services. Indicators:

—No. of [improvements in] water and sanitation facilities and drainage

— No. of lighted bus stops

—Average distance from homestead to all-weather road and public transport

—Reduction in flooding

—Statistics on aggressions and rapes (at bus stops, in shelters)

  • Sex-disaggregated data on time spent to and from work
  • Space and quality of housing for female- and male-headed households
  • Residents sense of safety and community cohesion
Relative budget allocation for gender mainstreaming activities Percentage of budget spent of gender-focused activities compared to total budget
Adoption and level of implementation of gender strategies and plans Number and type of activities undertaken

Percentage of plan completed

Policy change Inclusion, protection and/or improvement in laws or regulations to provide safe and gender equitable access to sector employment and services, resettlement, and land/housing titling.

Box 41 List of additional literature sources on gender and urban programs.

Box 41. Further readings on gender and urban programs