Transforming Vulnerability: Shelter, Adaptation, and Climate Thresholds

Authors: Marcus Moench, Fawad Khan, Ken MacClune, Caspar Amman, Phong Tran, Kate Hawley & the Sheltering from a Gathering Storm Research Team

This paper synthesizes collaborative research results on the economics of alternative strategies for building resilience of housing systems in response to current conditions and projected changes in climate. Research undertaken in Vietnam, India, and Pakistan demonstrates cost-effective solutions for reducing risk from flooding, extreme storm events, and increases in daily temperature maxima. These solutions benefit poor and vulnerable groups by enabling adoption and enhancement of strategies implemented by more wealthy groups. They involve specific steps to alter and strengthen shelter system designs and demonstrate avenues for supporting existing patterns of autonomous adaptation that have large social and economic benefits. The solutions leverage private investment. Most strategies would be enhanced by urban resilience planning but have benefits even when planning is impossible. Approaches for addressing projected increases in daily temperature minima and the heat index are more difficult to identify than for flooding and extreme storm impacts. Multi-model projections for case areas suggest heat index increases of 5–7°C, more than double projected temperature changes of 1–3°C. These will have large impacts on health, especially manual labourers and groups, such as women, children, and the elderly who are housebound without air-conditioning. Few cost-effective solutions exist and further research and innovation are needed.


Moench, M., Khan, F., MacClune, K., Amman, C., Tran, P., Hawley, K. & the Sheltering from a Gathering Storm Research Team (2015). Transforming vulnerability: shelter, adaptation, and climate thresholds. Climate and Development. doi: 10.1080/17565529.2015.1067592

Funded by: 

UK Department for International Development (DFID), Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and the Rockefeller Foundation.


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