Heat Risk Perception and Communication Strategies for Adaptation within Low-Income Communities in Kampala City, Uganda

Article Authors: Sseviiri, H., Mukwaya, P., Revocatus, T., Kisira, Y., Viola, N., Disan, B., & Mandela, N. S. (2022).


Uganda’s temperatures have risen by 0.78oC in the last seven decades and are projected to increase by about 2℃ to 5℃ in the next 50-80 years. This compounded with changes in climate and the urban heat island effect is becoming a significant challenge, thereby increasing urban heat risk. This study set out to analyse heat risk perception and communication strategies for adaptation amongst low-income communities in Kampala city and deployed literature review, surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews as data collection methods. The findings revealed that informal settlements and business corridors are hotter than the surroundings with conditions like dense housing, absence of vegetation cover, ecosystems degradation, air pollution and prevalence of critical transport hubs increasing their susceptibility to heat risk.

Heat exposure was frequently associated with age, marital status, main income source and monthly income of individuals living or working in the informal sector. Extreme temperature was frequently perceived to affect health through; headache, excessive sweating, prolonged thirst, tiredness, dizziness, dehydration and increased health expenditures. Heatwaves were reported to reduce movement of people and water availability as surface water sources dry up. Extreme temperatures were indicated to reduce sale of warm/hot drinks and food, food spoilage and wastage which reduces the viability of business enterprises dealing in food products, and labour productivity. Further, heatwaves were found to increase energy costs and air pollution.

Heat risk effects are more significant in children, pregnant women, the elderly, chronically ill, the homeless, albinos and people working in the open. Hardly any city-wide and community level interventions exist to increase awareness and ability to address heat risk. However, there have been some efforts geared towards reducing the heatwaves effect such as; greening the city’s road infrastructure, creation of a non-motorised transport corridor, tree planting and protection of green infrastructure. urban heat risk is a problem in Kampala city, it affects informal sector livelihoods and yet it is not well documented and appreciated for better awareness, preparedness and adaptation planning. It is recommended that multi-stakeholder research and actions are required to generate the requisite evidence that informs urban development policy, planning and practice across various scales.

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Journal American Red Cross and Global Disaster Preparedness Center

Heat Risk Perception and Communication Strategies for Adaptation in Kampala City, Uganda 

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