NEW DELHI, Aug 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Upgrading slums and giving tenancy rights to residents is key to climate change adaptation and disaster mitigation in India's cities, an analyst said, as the country braces for extreme weather events of greater frequency and intensity.
With 1.3 billion people and densely populated cities, India is particularly vulnerable to damage wrought by drought, cyclones, floods and extreme heat.
Improving the infrastructure in urban slums is essential to a city's disaster preparedness, said Gautam Bhan, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Human Settlements in Delhi.
"The answer to the question, how prepared is the city for extreme weather events, can only be answered in full by asking how prepared the city's slums are, as they are the most vulnerable to a disaster," he said.
"Everyone experiences these disasters, so they know how important it is to be prepared for them. It is the best argument for the need to upgrade and redevelop urban slums," he said.
About 65 million people live in India's slums, according to 2011 census data, but activists say this is a low estimate.
That number is rising quickly as tens of thousands of migrants leave their villages daily to seek better prospects in urban areas.
Many end up in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, lacking even basic facilities and with no claim on the land or the property, leaving them vulnerable to disasters.