Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events in Cities: Implications for Infrastructure and Livelihoods

Organization: The British Academy

Lead Researchers: Katherine V. Gough, Loughborough University

This project brings together an expert, interdisciplinary team to investigate the impacts of flooding and extreme heat on urban infrastructure and the resultant consequences for the livelihoods of poor urban residents in Ghana.

Many cities in the global South are increasingly experiencing extreme weather events, which are having devastating impacts on infrastructure and human lives. The main aims of “Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events in Cities: Implications for Infrastructure and Livelihoods” (VEWEC) are to:

  • Refine methods for mapping ‘hotspots’ of vulnerability and predicting flooding and extreme heat in cities by drawing on existing climate data
  • Examine the impact of flooding and extreme heat on water, electricity and health services
  • Analyse the impact of reduced service levels during extreme weather events on the income-generating activities of the urban poor
  • Co-produce adaptive strategies to extreme weather events with residents, service providers and policymakers


The cities of Accra and Tamale, with their differing climates, urban form and size, infrastructure and governance systems, provide contrasting cases within one national context. This project focuses on four areas within each city that have been selected as representative of neighbourhoods suffering from either flooding and/or extreme temperatures. For Accra these are Odawna, Bortianor, Agbogbloshie and Alajo. For Tamale they are Gumani, Sakasaka, Kukuo and Lamashegu.

Put simply, key questions being asked include:

  • Where, when and how are climate hazards impacting Accra and Tamale?
  • What actions are already being taken by communities and service providers to adapt to flooding and extreme temperatures?
  • What further action could be taken?

The views and experiences of key stakeholders and residents of the study communities are being sought using qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Household-level temperature data will be collected using tiny-tag sensors located within and outside houses and businesses.

This collaborative research is being conducted by climate scientists, human geographers, health specialists and infrastructure engineers based at Loughborough University, the University of Ghana, and the University for Development Studies (Tamale).