Thursday, December 19, 2019

Waste, Water and Wellbeing

An international, interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of the West of Scotland and beyond which I'm leading has been awarded a grant of just under £300,000 from the British Academy as part of their Global Challenges Research Fund supported 'Urban Infrastructures of Wellbeing' programme. None of this would have been possible without the pioneering PhD research of Dr Ben Parry (now at Bath Spa University) and the immense support from all our friends, colleagues and partners in India...the summary of the project is as follows: 

Waste, Water and Wellbeing: lessons from the interface of formal/informal urban systems in Dharavi, Mumbai

The study provides an in-depth analysis of formal/informal infrastructural collisions in Mumbai. Dharavi, as one of the largest informal settlements in Asia, is a highly significant centre of employment and economic activity but is directly affected by many global challenges e.g. poverty, plastic waste, water shortage, poor urban resilience, migration, housing and sanitation. Its recycling industry is entirely self-organised within the informal sector. Poor infrastructure creates air/groundwater pollution and significant land contamination. Reducing waste comes at the expense of human health and life. We examine urban development through the lens of the 'smart city from below', at the interface between the user-generated city and centralised urban planning systems. We address issues of trust, health protection, participation, ownership and ethics in the implementation of infrastructure-driven solutions, specifically at the points of collision between 'top down' development, (e.g. the USD3.4bln Mumbai Metro 3), and the 'user-generated city' of the Dharavi workers colony.

There is a big team working on the two-year project, including Dr Ben Parry at Bath Spa University, colleagues at UWS in Social Sciences, Engineering, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, and colleagues in India specialised in waste and remediation, ETC Group and people from the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University,  as well as the existing excellent group of people working on Compound 13 Lab. More information on the British Academy website.