T4.5: Housing, Economy and Community-led Actions

The session topic “Housing, economy and community-led actions” has focussed mainly on the importance of existing social networks for building resilience. People and communities gained relevance not only as the primary target of resilience, but as the main actors in the agency of resilience.

The discussion on cultural differences as in the migration context, the practice of informality in the city, the tension between growth versus well-being of the city and the grassroots movement might not be well-established in existing literature about resilience yet, but this indicates a need to understand the various perceptions of community that exist among resilience discourses.

The session proposes that urban resilience needs to be more people-centered, taking into account existing social networks and connections. The presentations point to the need for more flexibility in the implementation of policies and the need to deal with uncertainty and contingency. At the same time, local realities come as a crucial factor of analysis, although there is a possibility of replicating key concepts and guidelines to different contexts. One the one hand, a series of external aspects influence the resilience of communities, such as demographics, national health policies, economic conditions, legislation for informal workers, and energy provision. However, the presentations highlight the importance of local agency, collective action, and social networks in shaping the way communities react to everyday life adversities. Therefore, the panel as a whole points out that the intrinsic relations and internal operations of communities need to be understood and analyzed for the implementation of policies or projects. In that sense, in order to move to a more “transformability” approach, urban resilience has to partner with a specific internal logic and make use of them for a positive impact in communities.

How can the concept of resilience be applied to housing market problems?
Friederike Frieler

In the first presentation, named “How can the concept of resilience be applied to housing market problem”,  Friederike Frieler pointed out the challenge of housing in Germany caused by a demographic split, due to recent social changes such as refugee migration. In the the presented case study of the city of Leipzig, an imbalance between supply and demand of housing created a Swarm Cities” phenomenon where big cities are incapable to accommodate the demand for housing. Frieler indicated the lack of exclusive application of the resilience framework to the issues of housing market and policy. Thus, she has used the “transformability” approach of resilience, which can express the ability of the housing sector in dealing with uncertainty and contingency, enhancing the flexibility and improvisation of qualities which benefit all users. Frieler observed transformability through the lens of economic, environmental, and social aspects. Resilience in an economic perspective can propose measuring models which include specific indicators, such as housing costs related to income. While the orientation of an environmental approach is centered in construction quality, for social aspects the importance of studies at the neighborhood level has been emphasized. To sum up, the presenter proposes that the development of resilient housing policy can promote flexible housing stock and a plurality of forms of ownership. In addition, it is essential for policy makers at the local level to internalize resilience into their practice. 

The structure of collective-based working and living settlement: The case of local-specific urban kampong in Jakarta
Lucia Pramanti, Handi Chandra Putra, Wahyu Astuti

In the following presentation, “The structure of collective-based working and living settlement: The case of local-specific urban kampong in Jakarta” Lucia Indah Pramanti analysed resilience in the framework of community and local economy by using the case study of the urban village of Kampung Rawa in Jakarta. The presenter has looked at urban poor’s resilience toward the pressure of modernization in a global city: facing difficulties to enter the formal market, migrants from the countryside have developed independent economic activities developed within the dwelling space, such as the production of tofu and tempeh (soybean cake). One keypoint of Pramanti’s study is that the urgency to solve problems has led to coping mechanism to survive economically in Jakarta. In addition, the community has built strong social capital, which allows residents to cope with challenges collectively. In that sense, the resilience framework is used to show that the quality of urban areas goes beyond investment in physical space, depending also on the ability of self-management of citizens.The presentation points to future challenge of how the culture of collectivity should be not only related to new resilience paradigm, but also be manifested in a spatial form.

Informal Economy in the Fragile City as a Driver of Social Resilience. Lessons for disaster risk reduction. Focus on informal workers in the public space of Bogota, Colombia.
Juan Sebastian Benitez Bustamante

Next, Juan Sebastian Benitez Bustamante presented “Informal economy in the fragile city as a driver of social resilience. Lessons for the disaster risk reduction. Focus on informal workers in the public space of Bogota, Colombia.” The social aspect is a critical point utilized by Benitez to examine the resilience of informal workers in two sites of Bogota: Candelana and Usaquen. He observed how the survival and adaptation mechanisms of these workers operate in the public space and consequentially builds social resilience. The nonexistence of the resilience concept in the literature on informal economy directed him to borrow the concept of resilience from the disaster risk management framework. By using this method, he found that there are ten out of twelve attributes of social resilience which align with disaster resilience, especially regarding people, group and community-focus concepts. He found out that some conditions have indirectly created resilience among informal workers, including exposure to economic problems, lack of social security and essential services, evictions by public authorities, and the weather. Also, the strong solidarity network among them has been enabling the force to influence change or movement, for example against eviction from public authorities. These adaptation and survival mechanism, including flexibility, is an investment to face future sudden shock, like disasters. Finally, he underlined that further studies of resilience, which take context-based dynamism like informal activities into account, will need to be undertaken.

The role of networks in insuring health shocks. The case of poor urban communities in Accra
Ana Maria Perez Arredondo

In the presentation “The role of networks in insuring health shocks. The case of poor urban communities in Accra”, Ana Maria Perez Arredondo presented a research project that is applying the concept of One Health to analyze resilience in four cities in different parts of the world. The author presented the case of Accra, a city in Gana, in which deprived health conditions affects directly the resilience capacities of vulnerable urban populations. In the research, the conventional understanding of resilience is reframed by the idea of one health, pointing out that environmental change is affecting the relationship between humans, animals and the environment. In that sense, it is crucial to consider the relationship between these three aspects to propose trans-disciplinary practical solutions from a multi-hazard and multi-risk perspective, shifting from a framework of looking at urban economic growth to one that considers the well-being of citizens. The importance of how health is financed came as a key aspect of the presentation. In the case of Accra, a series of existing social networks and risk shares through community-based insurance are presented as a reaction to the deprivation of the national health financing system. The presenter highlights that these social networks need to be taken into account and understood as an opportunity in the restructuring of new health policies in the country.

From subordination to resistance and solidarity: transformative citizen action and energy vulnerability in Barcelona
Sergio Tirado Herrero

Last, in “From subordination to resistance and solidarity: transformative citizen action and energy poverty in Barcelona” Sergio Tirado Herrero presented the role of community-based organizations in fighting for more just energy provision. He outlines the challenge that a significant part of the population of Barcelona does not have access to adequate energy cannot afford to pay or have debts regarding their electricity bills. The presenter tries to criticize the bounce back idea of resilience, and fosters a more transformative framework, even suggesting that the concept of resistance could be an alternative to the idea of resilience. In that sense, the Catalan movement Alliance Against Energy Poverty is highlighted as an essential actor for giving voice to the energy poor and re-politicizing the debate around energy consumption. The presented case shows the potential of collective action in shifting individual experiences of energy poverty into networks of mutual resistance through solidarity. Such networks, aligned with the favorable political conditions in Barcelona, have been provided more just access to energy by vulnerable citizens.