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Health Risks in Urban Slums

Tackling Climate-related Health Risks in Urban Slums: an Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Challenge of Integrating Local and Scientific Knowledges.

Many urban populations in the Global South live in slums with poor access to sanitation and clean drinking water. Changes to the local and global climate threaten to exacerbate these health risks; flooding increases exposure to infectious diseases, while droughts threaten food supplies. Avoiding climate related mortality and morbidity requires input from climate researchers, medical scientists, and local populations alike.

While recent research demonstrates that local stakeholders hold important experiential knowledge about their socioeconomic and environmental circumstances, integrating this knowledge into health-related climate adaptation strategies is not straightforward due to epistemic and socioeconomic inequalities.

Tackling these challenges, this project develops the first systematic, comprehensive, and empirically informed framework for integrating differentiated knowledge in the context of climate-related health risks in slums through philosophical analysis of the concept of expertise, empirical research on traditional ecological knowledge, and medical knowledge of urban slum health.

The team consists of researchers from different disciplines, including political philosophy, geography, and medical sciences. The project is funded by the British Academy (Knowledge Frontiers) and is a collaboration between the University of Warwick (PAIS – lead; medical sciences), the University of Leeds (Priestley International Centre for Climate), and the University of Zambia (Geography and Environmental Sciences). The project integrates philosophical analysis with population health fieldwork in urban slum populations, with a particular focus on Lusaka, Zambia.