University of Hawaii at Manoa (United States)


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.

Principal Investigator

Priyam Das

Associate Professor and Chair, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Priyam Das is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She studies water governance, focusing on the barriers to extending water and sanitation services to settlements outside so-called formal planning systems. Broadly framed by two key questions – to what extent are such barriers related to issues of governance and how do strategies deployed by different actors to improve access to basic services inform planning and policy – her research addresses questions about poverty, inequality, and disenfranchisement. It has been published in major scholarly journals such as World Development, Environment and Urbanization, Environment and Planning A, International Development Planning Review, and Sustainability. Her current work examines how climate change and emerging disruptions are disproportionately affecting the poor and their access to basic shelter and services. She holds a PhD in urban planning from UCLA, a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Penn State, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.