Okapi engaged in a mixed methods research study to understand the disaster vulnerability of Chennai’s homeless people.
As Chennai strives to become more equitable and better prepared for future disasters, the city needs to accommodate the needs of the most marginalized group – i.e. the homeless – in its disaster mitigation and response plans. This is possible only by involving communities in the process of identifying vulnerabilities, planning for better access to resources, and co-developing disaster response plans. Therefore, the goal of this project was to develop a community-based, thorough understanding of the homeless group’s vulnerability to disasters that will inform policy and support more equitable thinking and action in Chennai’s governance of disaster management. Okapi engaged directly with the homeless to understand, how they perceive their vulnerability to disaster, and if they have access to basic services (food, water, sanitation, emergency night shelters and healthcare) during disasters. We also analysed the extent of support from government/non-governmental schemes to address needs of the homeless during disasters; the existence of community-based coping mechanisms used by the homeless, if any; and how other cities in India or abroad address homeless peoples’ needs during disasters, to better address Chennai’s homeless needs and reduce their vulnerability.
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