The number of poor and informal urban settlers in the world is rapidly growing, and they are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Therefore, understanding the nature and sustainability of locally adopted coping and adaptation strategies are key, yet still under-researched areas. Design/methodology/approach Based on ethnographic research conducted in two poor, flood-prone municipalities in Pikine/Dakar, this paper identifies such coping and adaptation strategies and examines their prospects for maladaptation.