NEW DELHI, May 23 (AlertNet) - Ten Asian cities prone to floods, droughts or soaring temperatures are developing a set of key indicators to assess their vulnerability to the effects of climate change and improve urban planning to boost resilience.
Municipalities and environmental groups in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam will analyse indicators such as capacity of their water supply systems, incidence of waterlogging and rainfall projections, to provide the first ever climate change-specific urban development data.
The project, run by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), aims to mainstream such indicators into the cities' overall development strategy, putting climate change impact at the forefront of urban planning as rapid urbanisation takes effect.
"From this year onwards, these pilot cities in Asia will be demonstrating the practical value of these indicators in improving the climate resilience of these cities," said Stephen Tyler, senior associate at the U.S.-based Institute for Social Change and Environmental Transition, a partner organisation working on the project.
"Once that happens, they can serve as models for other cities in these countries and elsewhere to adopt."
The cities include India's flood-prone Surat in the west, Gorakhpur in the north, as well as centrally located Indore, which suffers water scarcity during its scorching summer season.
Indonesia's Bandar Lampung and Semarang, Thailand's Chiang Rai and Hat Yai and Vietnam's Can Tho, Dan Nang and Quy Nhom are also part of the project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Experts say better urban planning, taking into account climate change, is essential as more people move to cities.
In India, urbanisation sees millions of people migrating from rural areas to towns every year, resulting in higher concentrations of people living in smaller spaces.
Currently, around 380 million - around a third of Indians - live in urban areas, but this is projected to increase to 600 million by 2031, say government officials.
In the city of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh state, inhabitants witness erratic weather, including increasingly intense rainfall over short periods of time.
The rain, combined with mountain runoff from nearby Nepal, which is also seeing heavier-than-usual rains, inundates the city as well as villages in the area, often resulting in displacement, damaged homes and crop losses of poor farmers.
"In one of the wards that we are working in, the idea is to help develop a drainage system that is climate resilient," said Shiraz Wajih, president of the Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, which is part of ACCCRN.
"So we are collecting data on climate projections and on that basis the city's drainage system has to be made."
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)