Understanding Disaster Vulnerability of Chennai's Homeless
As Chennai strives to become more equitable and better prepared for future disasters, t
he city needs to accommodate the needs of the most marginalised group in its disaster mitigation
and response plans. This is only possible through involving the communities in the process of
planning for better access to resources, and co-developing disaster response plans.
Therefore, the goal of this project is to develop a community-based, thorough understanding
of the homeless group’s vulnerability to disasters that will inform policy and support more
equitable thinking and action in Chennai city’s governance of disaster management efforts.
It will engage directly with the homeless to understand how they perceive their vulnerability
to disaster, and if they have access to basic services (food, water, sanitation, emergency night
shelters and healthcare) during disasters. It also seeks to analyse the extent of support from
government/non-governmental schemes to address needs of the homeless during disasters; the
existence of community based coping mechanisms used by the homeless, if any; and how other
cities in India or abroad address homeless peoples’ needs during disasters,
to better address Chennai’s homeless needs and reduce their vulnerability.
Parama Roy is the Lead Researcher heading the ‘Urban Transformation and Water’ portfolio at
Okapi Research & Advisory. Parama is interested in the multifaceted and complex nature of the
urbanisation process and its social and environmental implications. Parama completed her Ph.D.
from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught at Georgia State University and State University
of New York-Binghamton in the US and University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Currently,
she also holds an ‘Adjunct Faculty’ position at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Parama’s work is specifically motivated by principles of socio-environmental justice and
sustainable development and guided by political-economic and political-ecological theories,
and mixed research methodologies. She has published
widely in international peer reviewed journals like Urban Affairs Review, City, and Geoforum.
She recently headed Okapi’s work as the strategy partner to Resilient Chennai team
(part of Rockefeller Foundation funded 100 Resilient Cities program). This work has involved
comprehensive research and broad stakeholder engagement across Chennai to identify city’s
vulnerabilities specifically in the areas of water, disaster, governance,
vulnerable communities, and urbanisation and has culminated into the Chennai Resilience Strategy 2019.
Additional writing / Articles
Roy, P . (2019) Community Gardening for Integrated Urban Renewal in Copenhagen: Securing or Denying Minorities’ Right to the City? In Just Green: Urban Gardening and the Struggles of Social and Spatial Justice, Certoma C, Noori S, and Sondermann M (Eds). Manchester University Press
Roy, P . et al (Strategy Lead) (2019) Resilient Chennai-Kaleidoscope: My city through my eyes, 100 Resilient Cities Program. Available from: Chennai City Resilience Strategy 2019
Roy, P . et al, (2018) Chennai: Urban Visions (A report from TN State Land Use Board funded project - A Platform for Integrated Water Governance in Metropolitan Chennai: Developing Future Scenarios and Strategies Through Participatory Simulations)
Roy, P (2017) "Welcome in my backyard"...but on my terms: making sense of homeless exclusion from renewed urban spaces in Copenhagen. GeoJournal, 83 (7): 1-16; DOI 10.1007/s10708-017-9769-8
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