Heat Vulnerabilities in Urban Migrant Communities: A Mixed-Methods Study from Vienna
Climate change is projected to further increase heat waves in number, intensity and duration in the 21st century. Among the urban population certain groups are more affected and exposed to heat than others. Persons with migrant background are considered to be at high risk during heat waves due to the intersection of several risk factors like health condition, socio-economic status and residential area. Despite growing importance in health promotion and prevention, little research exists on the intersectionality of risk factors, particularly in Austria. The interdisciplinary research project “Vulnerability of and adaption strategies for migrant groups in urban heat environments (EthniCityHeat)” aims to fill this gap.
The methodological design consists of:
(1) two explorative case studies based on participant observation and in-depth interviews,
(2) 15 in-depth interviews with stakeholders,
(3) 20 problem-centred interviews with persons with Turkish migrant background and
(4) two standardised face-to-face surveys (n=800).
Results & Conclusions:
The case studies reveal crucial inequalities in heat-related vulnerabilities with respect to
socio-economic status (poverty, heat-exposed manual labour, inflexible working hours)
residential area (densely populated, disadvantaged urban areas, heat islands, limited action scope further restrained by a lack of language skills) and
health (physical and psychological health condition, medication, restricted access to healthcare system due to a lack of knowledge and language skills).
Accordingly, survey results indicate that particularly elderly with migrant background suffer from heat stress. Qualitative analysis indicates a lack of risk awareness in regard to heat (waves) in Vienna among both stakeholders and persons with Turkish background themselves. We conclude that heat warning systems need to take the perceptions of vulnerable groups into account. Additionally, long term response systems need to tackle infrastructural and social inequalities in order to foster adaption capacity.