In India, a recent spate of floods has sharpened focus on the pivotal role of urban planning, land use in particular, in protecting ecosystems. Such events are also a reminder that city-regions are hardly homogeneous unified systems but a palimpsest of subsystems with underlying socio-economic disparities. This study will explore how communities that are typically impacted by floods during the monsoon season (June-September) in India are preparing for the looming threat amidst one of the strictest Covid-19 lockdowns. Given the vulnerability of context to extreme weather events such as location in high-risk areas, pre-existing social vulnerability, and access to basic services, are there discernible differences in preparedness across communities due to the restrictions imposed by the current pandemic? How can learning about community preparedness inform equitable resilience strategies for future extreme events? The study will be conducted in Guwahati, Assam where the nexus of floods, socio-political complexity, and the city’s position at the cusp of major urban transformation makes for a salient case study site. It is against this backdrop that the study will examine how adaptive strategies could be strengthened not just with the current crisis in mind but as a means to build a robust plan for community resilience. The findings will contribute to a deeper understanding of who recovers, what is recovered, and in what parts of the city, which is a necessary, though understudied, element in framing a new urban agenda that calls for inclusivity.
Associate Professor and Chair, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa