Can urban regeneration improve health resilience in a changing climate?
Climate change presents multiple challenges for local governments in developing countries. These challenges are acute, particularly in cities that experience continuous and rapid population growth, requiring adequate land-use and infrastructure planning. Frequently these cities see informal settlements built in hazardous locations.
The health of residents in large cities can be affected by the impacts of climate change including increased rainfall events, flooding and heatwaves, contributing to an increase in vector-borne diseases. In Indonesia, urban regeneration programmes and projects are seen as potential ways to increase well-being by providing decent housing. Urban regeneration is a broad idea to improve neglected urban areas.
By comparing two Indonesian cities, Semarang and Pekalongan, this study assesses the extent to which urban regeneration can be considered a climate change adaptation option, and explores the potential challenges and outcomes in using urban regeneration as an adaptation strategy for enhancing health resilience, such as through improved housing and sanitation, at the city level. The study finds several benefits from urban regeneration (and in particular the construction of planned vertical housing) such as increased protection from extreme weather events, reduced land-rights issues, reduced prevalence of vermin such as mice and rats, and better coping capacity during heatwaves when compared to non-vertical informal housing. However, there was no direct indication that housing type had any positive or negative correlation with incidences of diarrhoea, dermatitis or respiratory problems.
Further research is needed to evaluate the potential of urban regeneration, in particular of housing, as an adaptation measure and to better understand what core factors constitute ‘success’ and ‘well-being’ in formal and informal housing areas and how such results can contribute to the development of an informed adaptation policy at the city level.