Chennai Floods and Children’s Resiliency: Understanding the Impact of a Sudden Onset Climatic Disaster on Vulnerable Urban Children

The recent devastating floods in Chennai proved the prediction that coastal regions of Asia, particularly the urban areas, could face some of the most adverse effects of climate change (such as extreme heat and rain, flooding etc.) to be true. Incessant rains in December 2015 that broke the century’s record brought Chennai to a grinding halt. India has a 7,517-km long, densely populated coastline with many cities. None of these are planned enough or developed to withstand a disaster of the scale witnessed in Chennai.

Climate related risks of Indian coastal cities are increasing. So is the vulnerability of children and adolescents, who often comprise about 40% of the population in cities. Children’s exposure to increasing and dramatic weather events, disease outbreaks and fluctuations in temperature are made worse by entrenched poverty and fragile institutions in most of these cities which struggle to secure the rights of the child. Yet research on child-centered adaptation in urban communities is virtually non-existent.

In order to address these research gaps and provide up to date advice to city governments in Chennai and other coastal cities in India and to child-centered organizations engaged in CCDRR and CCCCA, Action for Children’s Environments (ACE) and Save the Children are conducting a research study to understand the risks and impacts of weather related disasters on children in Chennai in the light of the recent floods.