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Accepted Paper:

Climate change, occupational and environmental risks facing informal workers and residents of informal settlements: Towards Resilience in Indore (India)  
Alice Sverdlik (University of Manchester) Kanupriya Kothiwal (Urban Health Resource Centre) Shabnam Verma Siddharth Agarwal (Urban Health Resource Centre)

Paper short abstract:

We discuss the effects of climate change on informal workers’ living and working conditions in Indore (India), using recent qualitative research. The study explored bottom-up solutions to enhance shelter, improve access to social protection, and implement inclusive strategies with local officials.

Paper long abstract:

Most workers in Indian cities labour in the informal economy. Climate change is contributing to water insecurity, water-logging, and other hazards that may significantly affect informal workers' health. Low-quality living environment and gendered inequalities may further aggravate informal workers’ challenges.

The research explored the occupational, environmental, and climate-related health threats facing informal workers in Indore (India). We conducted 90 qualitative interviews with informal workers including street vendors, domestic workers, home-based workers, youth, casual labourers, and factory workers. We examine several climate-related risks facing informal workers such as heavy rains, heatwaves, and water scarcity. The study also uncovered the interplay between low-quality working and living environments, including linkages to inadequate WASH and shelter. Corrugated metal sheets absorb and transmit heat into small houses, where women often also have to cook. During heavy rains, water often enters homes and may damage workers’ documents, stored food grains (heightening food insecurity), and house structures. Water shortages in Indore (partly linked to climate change) only compound the problems facing informal workers and residents of informal settlements. Where toilet facilities are limited, workers (especially women) may deliberately limit drinking water, contributing to dehydration and exhaustion.

Additionally, we explain how informal workers are pursuing solutions to foster health and well-being such as grassroots saving schemes, incrementally building more resilient housing, and constructing water-storage systems to deal with water scarcity. Supported by a local NGO, workers negotiated successfully for improved living environment with local authorities and helped to expand access to social protection.

Panel P23
Informal Economies in an Age of Environmental Crisis
  Session 2 Friday 30 June, 2023, -