As part of the ‘Global Climate Change Week’, on October 17th and 18th 2022 four collaborative workshops/events were conducted at the Azim Premji Unversity. This workshop was conducted together by Hasiru Dala, Bangalore Sustainability Forum and Citizen Matters. Speakers from various background participated and shared their perspectives on dealing with floods in Bengaluru and the potential designs and solutions.
Biome participated in the panel of the first workshop conducted on Oct 17th. The topic of this panel discussion was ‘Building climate Leaders in Informal Settlements’
The panel consisted of the speakers listed below. The composition of the panel was quite unique since it included two participants from the waste picker community, who had first-hand experience in dealing with floods during heavy rain events
- Ms Jayabai, Wastepicker
- Ms Lalitha, Hair picker: Experiences of living with floods in Konapa Agrahara
- Ms Nalini Shekar, Hasiru Dala
- Mr Akbar , Hasiru Dala
- Mr Srinivas, Biome Environmental Trust
Ms Harini gave the introduction and spoke about how informal communities are vulnerable and affected by climate change. Specifically, they are the most affected during heavy rains. During the interaction with waste pickers, several factors which contribute to flooding in such communities came up for discussion. Some of these reasons are listed below,
- The informal settlements tend to be formed at low lying areas and very close to Rajakaluves
- The new developments that come around these informal settlements tend to raise their building structure levels higher in relation to the surrounding ground level. Thus causing water to flow further away from these buildings and into the low-lying homes of the waste pickers
- There have been instances where the owner of the land partially blocked the adjacent drains, causing excess water to be diverted into the houses of these waste picker communities
This was followed by a discussion around potential solutions like,
- Re-locating these communities to higher grounds
- Raising the ground level of the settlement itself using construction debris
- Developing recharge pits/wells along the pathway of the water flow, as a larger community action
- Increasing awareness about monitoring forecasts, so that the dwellers in these settlements can prepare themselves in an adequate manner
- The need for Govt agencies to include these people also in a participatory/consultative manner for solutions that are planned/implemented for flood management/prevention
The panel discussion also included a Question and Answer component.
The waste pickers also shared their experiences of social discrimination, which they face on a regular basis. They mentioned that due to the nature of their work other better-off people living in the surrounding community look upon them with suspicion and distrust.
Ms Nalini mentioned an important point towards the end of the workshop. The waste pickers actually help clean the city streets by picking up plastics and other discarded materials. They are an integral part of recycling. Hence they are positively contributing towards addressing climate change issues. Paradoxically they are also the most affected by events caused by climate change. The adverse impact of flooding during heavy rains is one such issue. Coming up with solutions for handling and mitigating floods can go a long way in improving their living condition.