It is well known that the environment in which people live significantly affects their health. Particularly in the case of low-income, urban resident groups, consideration of the housing-health nexus shows that health-related improvements require a cross-sectoral approach to housing conditions. The term “Environmental Health” refers to those aspects of human health, including well-being, that are determined by physical, social, and psychosocial factors in people’s daily living environment – with health not just being the mere absence of disease or infirmity, according to the WHO’s definition (WHO 1946).

The links between poor environmental health and other dimensions of poverty are complex, reinforcing each other in various ways (Sunikka-Blank et al., 2019). Poor people typically face greater exposure to environmental health risks because they live in “unhealthy” locations without basic services. They are more vulnerable because they are less able to adjust behaviour and moderate exposure. People’s housing significantly impacts their livelihoods: location gravely influences which jobs are accessible and spaces at their disposal determine which businesses they can operate (Ellena et al, 2020). Some home-based economic activities can also represent health risks, such as smoke inhalation or exposure to harmful substances.

Housing, Health Nexus and livelihood aspects are intrinsically interlinked and complex. It has seldom been looked at in its entirety (Mukhija 2001). This TRIALOG issue strives to shed light on this nexus and explores ways in which poor urban residents (especially but not exclusively in India and Ethiopia) navigate constraints. Empirically rooted and informed by several disciplines, the cases presented here further our knowledge on this nexus.

01 Mamta Patwardhan investigates the vulnerability of a community living in the informal settlement Adarsh Nagar, a neighbourhood in Deonar, Mumbai. While a dump yard serves as these residents’ main source of livelihood in waste picking, it at the same time constitutes a considerable health risk. The study provide insight into the various risks during severe weather conditions and observes how extreme weather events produced near epidemic circumstances.

02 B.N. Eicker, J.R. Noennig, and J.A. Schmidt develop a Liveable Life Index that aims to support identifying and classifying relevant, locally rooted liveable life components. The index was empirically tested in Bhubaneswar, India and the context of slum upgrading areas. The study stresses the importance of contextualised indicators in supporting sustainable upgrading approaches.

03 António Manuel de Amurane, Dorival Victorino Fijamo, Cecília João Boaventura, and Jaibo Rassul Mucufo present the case study of Namutequeliua, an informal neighborhood in the Municipality of Nampula, Mozambique. Their findings verify the influence of low housing conditions and poor social relations on public health of the informal area’s inhabitants, especially the children.

04 Abnet Gezahegn and Peter Gotsch focus on energy management in informal settlements in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They seek to understand the relationship between the energy management of households and the social, economic, and environmental characteristics of settlements. They show that access to the main grid, whether formal or informal, plays a significant role in ensuring tenure security of residents.

05 Also, in India, the paper of Faiz A. Chundeli and Tania Berger contributes to knowledge on relations between urban heat and the housing– health nexus. Moreover, it tackles the question of how these affect the livelihoods of low-income residents in Vijayawada, India. The authors conclude that the quality of housing mediates the link between heat and health. Substandard building materials are likely to cause overheating, impacting the residents’ livelihoods due to unhealthy living environments.

06 Sandeep B. Menon, Anirudh Somadas, Funda Atun and Javier Martinez investigate the “Nexus Between Human Well-Being of Peri-urban Communities and Ecosystem Services in Panju Island, Mumbai, India”. The well-being of humans depends on the natural environment in multiple ways. The dependency ranges from food to enjoying a beautiful landscape as a cultural ecosystem service. However, the authors question whether everyone receives these benefits in the same way.

07 Sara Amare’s paper on “Built Form and Energy Transition” presents the case of condominium housing in Mekelle, Ethiopia. In the context of a transition to cleaner energy, the authors found that residents of condominiums use predominantly electricity offered by a grid connection. However, the condominiums lack the space and facilities required to use other energy sources and limit the possibility of residents using a mix of energy sources.

08 Hone Mandefro and Bekele Molla Ayele examine whether neighbourhood design influences residents’ social capital. The authors compare social capital across three different neighbourhood types in Gondar, Ethiopia. They find that the vertical nature of condominium houses and the divergent backgrounds of the neighbours contribute to the poorer social capital among the condominium residents.

09 Avni Rastogi’s paper “Participatory Local Area Planning: The Case of Bombay Hotel, Ahmedabad” contributes to the question of What it means to “do” participatory planning in India. The author shows how participatory mapping and knowledge collected with the community are essential for key basic infrastructure such as solid waste, as it directly impacts residents’ health and well-being.

10 Daniel Semunugus, Ephrem Nigusie and Tania Berger counter the narrative of an ‘informal settlement free’ city in Mekelle, Ethiopia, by looking at how urban housing demand induces changes of livelihood in peri-urban areas. This study, therefore, showcases the transition of periurban to urban land. During this process, land use changes to entertain non-agrarian livelihoods.


• Ellena, M, Breil, M, & Soriani, S (2020). The heat-health nexus in the urban context: A systematic literature review exploring the socio-economic vulnerabilities and built environment characteristics. Urban Climate, 34, Dec 2020, 100676.

• Mukhija, V (2001), ‘Upgrading Housing Settlements in Developing Countries’, Cities, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 213– 222. • Sunikka-Blank, M, Bardhan, R & Haque, AN (2019), ‘Gender, domestic energy and design of inclusive lowincome habitats: A case of slum rehabilitation housing in Mumbai, India’, Energy Research & Social Science, vol. 49, pp. 53–67.

• World Health Organization (WHO) (1946). Constitution of the World Health Organization. Basic Documents, Geneva World Health Organization.

Tania Berger, Javier Martinez and Peter Gotsch

Table of contents

  • 4. Health and Climate Risks in Informal Settlements in Mumbai. A Case in Deonar Mamta Patwardhan
  • 13. The Liveable Life Index. A Guideline on How to Realise Urban Slum Upgrading Based on Local Preferences. Bhubaneswar (India) as an Example Berrit Neele Eicker, Jörg Rainer Noennig, and J. Alexander Schmidt
  • 19. House Conditions and Public Health. Case Study of Namutequeliua, an Informal Neighbourhood in the Municipality of Nampula, Mozambique António Manuel de Amurane, Dorival Victorino Fijamo, Cecília João Boaventura, and Jaibo Rassul Mucufo
  • 26. Household Energy Management in Informal Settlements of Addis Ababa Abnet Gezahegn and Peter Gotsch
  • 32. Urban Heat and the Housing-Health Nexus. How Do They Affect Livelihoods of Low-income Residents in India? Tania Berger and Faiz Ahmed Chundeli
  • 39. The Nexus Between Human Well-Being of Peri-urban Communities and Ecosystem Services. A Case Study of Panju Island, Mumbai Metropolitan Region, India Anirudh Somadas, Sandeep B. Menon, Javier Martinez, and Funda Atun
  • 46. Built Form and Energy Transition. The Case of Condominium Housing in Mekelle, Ethiopia Sara Amare Gebremeskel and Tania Berger
  • 52. Social Capital Across Three Different Neighbourhoods in Gondar, Ethiopia Hone Mandefro and Bekele Molla Ayele
  • 60. Participatory Local Area Planning. The Case of Bombay Hotel, Ahmedabad Avni Rastogi
  • 67. Countering the Narrative of an ‘Informal Settlement Free’ City. How Urban Housing Demand Induces Changes of Livelihood in Peri-urban Areas of Mekelle, Ethiopia Daniel Semunugus, Ephrem Nigusie, and Tania Berger
  • 74. Book reviews
  • 75. Editorial (Deutsch)