Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 13–25 | Cite as

Gendered perception and vulnerability to climate change in urban slum communities in Accra, Ghana

  • Mensah OwusuEmail author
  • Melissa Nursey-Bray
  • Diane Rudd
Original Article


Climate change is known to have differential impacts in the Global South, with gender and poverty being determining factors. In Ghana, both these factors come into play as women living in slums bear the brunt of the impacts. In spite of this, the majority of research in gender and climate change adaptation has focused on rural communities to the detriment of their poor urban counterparts. Using a critical feminist intersectional approach, this study investigates how the interplay between gender, socio-economic, institutional and place-based factors shapes vulnerability to climate change in three slums in urban Accra, Ghana. The results demonstrate that while climate change poses serious environmental hazards to all residents of slums, their perceptions and knowledge regarding the causes and impacts of these hazards are differentiated by gender, age, educational status and place-based variables, with women generally showing a lower level of awareness about climate change than their male counterparts. The results indicate further that irrespective of age, educational attainment and where people live, women were found to be overall more vulnerable, despite experiencing similar levels of exposure as the men, by virtue of their limited access to productive resources, poor conditions of housing, low participation in adaptation decision-making, as well as the heavy domestic responsibilities placed on them. We conclude that it is imperative for adaptation policy makers to formulate and implement appropriate adaptive measures in a gender-sensitive and context-specific manner to respond to the different vulnerabilities faced by different categories of social groups and communities in cities of the Global South.


Gender Urban slum Climate risk perception Intersectionality Vulnerability to climate change Accra Ghana 



The authors would like to thank the University of Adelaide for provision of funds to support this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was conducted in line with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) of the University of Adelaide, with Project Approval No. H-2014-170.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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