The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Adaptation to Climate Change in Cities


This research seeks, firstly, to understand how the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh are going to affect the urban poor inDhaka and  secondly, to address plans for adaptation at the local (neighbourhood level) that will address vulnerability. The research looks at impacts from a vulnerability perspective; understanding who and what is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and climate vulnerability as well as what can be done to address these vulnerabilities. The emphasis is on physical environment and the aspects contributing to adaptation in built environment.


The British Council Higher Education Link Programme
provided funding for exchange of researchers between Bangladesh and the United Kingdom to support the development of co-operation which contributes to staff and institutional capacity building in Bangladesh.

The first part of the research was a conceptual exercise, using the case study of Dhaka metropolitan region, to understand how we can look at social vulnerability to climate change with a focus on the built environment. The interrelations between poverty, rapid urbanisation, environmental degradation, slums and insecurity of tenure are some of major features of the work. Also interrelated are the impacts from climate change including flooding, urban heat island, rural-urban migration leading to rising household costs, exacerbation of public health problems and other aspects of increased social vulnerability. The conceptual work lead to focus on understanding the coping mechanisms of the urban poor for increased flooding and heat in their neighbourhoods.

The second part of the research was empirical and included interviews with 65 households in two informal settlements in Dhaka: Korail and Mohammadpur. The focus of these interviews was to understand the different coping mechanisms households are using to respond to flooding, water clogging and extreme heat.

Results of the research have been presented at Third International Conference on Community Based Adaptation in Dhaka in February 2009, at the World Bank Urban Research Symposium in Marseilles in June 2009 and at the EPI-Centre Risk Perception Symposium at University College London in October 2009.


A semi structured interview was designed to gather mostly qualitative data. The survey questions have been designed in consultation with local inhabitants and academics with options of flexibility and additions by the respondents. 35 households in Korail and 25 households in Mohammadpur beribadh area have been interviewed. 

The households have been chosen randomly based on the criteria of location, condition of houses, ownership and period of living in the area. For instance among the 30 households finally documented in Korail, 14 lived near the water edges, highly susceptible to flooding while other 16 live on higher ground in high density area with or without drainage facilities. 

The housing condition varied between permanent to temporary character and the period of tenancy varied from less than 1 year to more than 5 years. The 25 households documented in Mohammadpur had variations in using building materials from stilt houses made entirely of bamboo to structures made as combination of brick, corrugated iron sheets and bamboo. Also the location varied from living on the embankment to inner side of the low-land. The survey included interviewing at least 2 household members (male/ female) preferable in two different times.

The answers of the respondents were compiled and analyzed from the filled out answer form using the programmes Microsoft Office Access, Excel and SPSS. 
Notes, pictures and sketches provides important basis for the documentation. 

The questionnaire used is available to download in PDF format


There have been two workshops held in Dhaka and organised by the project team. 

The first workshop "Supporting Local Coping Strategies through Adaptation Planning" was held on August 25, 2009 in BRAC Centre Inn auditorium with more than forty participants, including community members and representatives from different institutions and organizations working with urban poverty, climate change and urban planning issues in Bangladesh. 

The second workshop, "Climate change: How does it concern us" is aimed at developing knowledge among community members about climate change. This workshop is being held at BRAC Centre Inn on January 19, 2010.


"Built-In-Resilience: Learning from Grassroots Coping Strategies to Climate Change Variability"

Fifth World Urban Research Symposium Cities and Climate Change, 2009 in Marseilles organized by the World Bank, the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development.

"Built-In-Resilience: Understanding Coping Strategies of the Urban Poor, Dhaka, Bangladesh"

1st EPICentre-JDCR International Risk Perception Symposium "Cities at Risk: Living with Perils in the 21st Century" in London in December 2009 organized by University College of London




  • Huraera Jabeen, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, BRAC University
  • Dr Cassidy Johnson, Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, University Collage London
  • Dr Adriana Allen, Senior Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, University Collage London

Research Assistants

Students, Department of Architecture, BRAC University:

Suhailey Farzana, Nabila Nowrin, Sadia Nishat, Badia Badrudoza, Nahid Sharmin, Fahim Mostafa, Durdana Parvez, Ahmed Bin Parvez, Arijita Areen Chowdhury, Shekhar Adittay Sayeed, Fabiha Pinaz

Local residents:

Fatema, Jahanara, Nasima Parvez, Abul Kashem


Dr Fuad H Mallick, Chairperson, Department of Architecture, BRAC University

Khandakar Hasibul Kabir, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, BRAC University

Aminur Rahman, Lecturer, Post-graduate Program for Disaster Management, BRAC University

Tahmina Rahman, Research Assistant, Post Graduate Programme in Disaster Managment, BRAC University


Data Analysis:

Firoj Ahmed Graphic Design and Photographs:

M. Nafisur Rahman, Lecturer, Department of Architecture, BRAC University

Video and Documentary Production:

Obaidul Fattah Tanvir


Huraera Jabeen
BRAC University
66, Mohakahali
Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh

Dr Cassidy Johnson
Development Planning Unit 
University College London 
34 Tavistock Square 
London WC1H 9EZ, U.K. 

Adriana Allen
Development Planning Unit 
University College London 
34 Tavistock Square 
London WC1H 9EZ, U.K.