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Urban resilience building in modern development: a case of Phnom Penh City, Cambodia

Sothun Nop, School of Science, University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra); Faculty of Development Studies, Royal University of Phnom Penh
Alec Thornton, School of Science, University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra); School of Humanities and School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg


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Although the process of building urban resilience is increasingly and globally promoted, we consider this concept, and the approaches to achieve it, as particularly challenging for cities in developing countries. We argue that current market-oriented processes of urban upgrading reflect a revival of modernization concepts that, as a consequence, is deepening inequality and limiting adaptive capacities of people to cope with livelihood disruptions resulting from natural disasters and climate change. Efforts in building urban resilience thus become more difficult for marginalized urban dwellers. We explored current climate-related hazards and their impacts on urban livelihoods in selected urban communities in the city of Phnom Penh. We adopted a mixed methods approach, and our key findings revealed limited local government attention to improving infrastructure and a lack of commitment to assist vulnerable urban poor communities to build resilience to natural shocks. Policy recommendations include supporting livelihood improvement programs, addressing land tenure insecurity, and improving basic infrastructure in informal settlements.

Key words

adaptation mechanism; climate-related risk; livelihoods; modern development; urban resilience; urban upgrading

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087