Hot, polluted and varied housing quality in Delhi: Characterising housing health risks and energy use to inform intervention priorities in Delhi’s settlements

For the attention of: Housing developers, health professionals, urban planners and city officials in Delhi and cities with similar climatic, housing and population issues.

The problem: Better housing could help simultaneously to improve health and sustainability.

Yet there is little research examining the connections between housing, health and energy in low-income contexts.

In Delhi, rapid urbanisation, a varied climate, very high pollutant levels, along with wide variation in housing quality and services could result in significant energy use and health risks across the housing sector.

What we did and why: We characterised energy use and health risks across Delhi’s housing, based on extensive reviews of available data and literature. This review gives an overview of housing health risks and energy use in Delhi, outlines priorities for interventions and where further data is vital. This will help further research and guide planners, developments and policymakers.

What our study adds: An assessment of Delhi’s housing, of this scale and type, has never been completed. Such work is necessary for identifying the key risks and priorities across Delhi, this is vital to inform avenues for further research as well as pathways for interventions, which can be utilised by planners, engineers and architects to enable a transition towards a healthy sustainable urban environment.

Implications for city policy and practice: 

  • Strategies to reduce energy should focus on affluent planned housing, where energy use is estimated to be two times higher compared with households from other settlement types.
  • Health risks are found to be largest within informal slum settlements, with important contributions from heat and particulate matter across all settlements.

Full research article: Housing, health and energy: a characterisation of risks and priorities across Delhi’s diverse settlements

Authors: Emily Nix, Jonathon Taylor, Payel Das, Marcella Ucci, Zaid Chalabi, Clive Shrubsole, Michael Davies, Anna Mavrogianni, James Milner, and Paul Wilkinson. Tweeting via @UCL_IEDE

Editor: Marcus Grant