Cities & Infrastructure
- Up to 16 months
Funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (through the Global Challenges Research Fund).
The Cities and Infrastructure programme funds seventeen projects that aim to produce policy-relevant evidence and interventions geared towards improving people’s lives in fragile, conflict-affected states or in developing countries. We issued an open call for applications (on behalf of all UK national academies), inviting proposals from UK-based researchers across all disciplines. Applicants were asked to develop interdisciplinary, problem-focused projects addressing the challenge of creating and maintaining sustainable and resilient cities in developing countries, while recognising the need to interweave mitigation and adaptation.
Projects were required to demonstrate an innovative approach, yielding new conceptual understanding on one or more of the following four sub-themes:
a) Planning: In the context of the large, dispersed and unplanned cities of the global south, planning for resilience becomes a matter of collaborative initiative involving a host of actors and sentient infrastructures. This requires mobilising plural and interdisciplinary knowledges, both for understanding and for acting in intelligent ways.
b) People: Human vulnerability and resilience go hand in hand. The poor are deprived in plural ways, but also forced to become resilient subjects, making use of the city and their know-how in imaginative ways.
c) Infrastructure: Cities are held together by infrastructures, which also instantiate and regulate social life in quite strong ways. In the global south the infrastructures are broken, incomplete, badly regulated, underfunded and often reliant on vernacular improvisations. Technical solutions alone will go only so far, and are expensive.
d) Habitat: The urban habitat is central to resilience, in the form of lived experience, the consequences of emissions and heating, the formation of symbolic and public culture, the consequences of urban architecture and design. This is an obvious terrain for interdisciplinary work on jointly making sense of how habitats can be managed as a silent form of 'atmospheric' regulation.
The Cities and Infrastructure programme is led by Caroline Knowles, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research and publications explore the ways in which particular strands of globalisation, in the movements of objects and people, compose and connect cities.
Big Cities – Small Changes: Thinking Creatively through Urban Infrastructure audio recordings
Knowledge and change
Please contact GCRF@thebritishacademy.ac.uk or call 020 7969 5220 for further information.
Capability Building for Infrastructure Delivery
This project aims to deepen understanding of the capabilities necessary for private and public sector organisations to effectively deliver infrastructure projects that will encourage economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, and support resilient societies.
Co-Production of Landslide Risk Management Strategies Through Development of Community-Based Infrastructure in Latin American Cities
#Upscaling-Resilience aims to develop bottom-up approaches to dealing with landslide risks in cities around the Global South, in a way that optimises the collaboration between communities and relevant governmental bodies, as well as the collaborative use of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ infrastructures.
Disconnected Infrastructures and Violence Against Women: Innovating Digital Technologies in Low-Income Neighbourhoods to Produce Safer Indian Cities
This project takes a rights-based approach to the challenge of how to address violence against women by improving women’s knowledge of and safe access to urban infrastructure in the Indian city.
Energy Innovation for Low-Cost Housing in India and South Africa: Strategies for Interdisciplinary and Cross-Institutional Dialogue
This research explores how low-income communities, private energy entrepreneurs, and government at various scales work in contestation and collaboration to devise and deliver affordable domestic energy that meets the long-term needs and aspirations of low-income households in two rapidly urbanising cities, Bangalore, India and Cape Town, South Africa.
Implementing Creative Methodological Innovations for Inclusive Sustainable Transport Planning
Getting hidden voices heard in East African urban transport planning processes.
Mexico's Megalopolis as a Model for the Key Role of Watershed Protection to Sustainable Cities
This project combines expertise in UK and Mexican universities/ NGOs with that of in-country stakeholders to determine how endemic grassland and forest can be sustainably managed for watershed provision in four major urban centres which form a megalopolis in Central Mexico, namely Mexico City, Puebla, Toluca and Cuernavaca which supports 30 million people.
NutriCities: Learning with Grassroots Food Infrastructures in the Favelas of the Maré, Rio de Janeiro
Entering in dialogue with grassroots food infrastructures in the favelas of the Maré in Rio de Janeiro, NutriCities explores to what extent urban popular classes may reach food sovereignty.
Optimal Investment Strategies to Minimise Flood Impact on Road Infrastructure in Vietnam
This project seeks to introduce scientific methods of operational research to demonstrate the comparative impacts of flooding of urban transport systems, on different levels of a city’s economy and society, under different investment scenarios.
Public Services and Vulnerability in the Lebanese Context of Large-Scale Displacement
This project aims to identify the ways in which refugees and hosts experience multiple forms of vulnerability, and to develop pathways towards implementing more inclusive service provision for better social welfare.
Rebuilding Kinship and Care after Dislocation in Urban South Asia: Colombo and Lahore Compared
This project looks at two cities in South Asia, Lahore in Pakistan and Colombo in Sri Lanka, and focuses on the ways in which urban development projects affect the lives of poor people who have been displaced to make way for new infrastructural projects.
Reducing Disaster Risk to Life and Livelihoods by Evaluating the Seismic Safety of Kathmandu's Historic Urban Infrastructure
This interdisciplinary North-South partnership is co-producing and disseminating a methodology to assess, evaluate and improve the seismic safety of historic urban infrastructure within Kathmandu's World Heritage sites, reducing direct risk to life and livelihoods while preserving Kathmandu’s authenticity and traditions.
Religious Urbanisation and Infrastructural Lives in African Mega-Cities: Moral Economies of Development in Kinshasa and Lagos
Taking as case studies Lagos and Kinshasa, this project explores how these religious urban models engage with challenges of infrastructural development, urban social cohesion and inclusion, safety and sustainability.
Safer Self-Recovery: Promoting Resilient Urban Reconstruction after Disasters
This project brings social scientists, engineers, geoscientists and humanitarian practitioners together to understand the factors that affect households’ recovery and reconstruction decision-making.
Strengthening Urban Engagement of Universities in Asia and Africa
This project is concerned with strengthening the urban engagement of universities and understanding how they may contribute more effectively to developing sustainable cities in the context of major social, cultural, environmental and economic challenges facing the global south.
The Governance of Infrastructure Interfaces: Cities, Technical Systems and Institutional Connections
This project investigates the governance of urban infrastructure interfaces in two Ethiopian cities, the capital Addis Ababa and the second-largest city, Dire Dawa.
Towards Inclusive Health Systems and Infrastructure Access: Enhancing the Well-Being of Refugees in East African Cities
Although 60% of refugees and asylum-seekers live in cities rather than camps, studies rarely consider their challenges in accessing healthcare, shelter, and infrastructure. This project analyses urban refugees’ health vulnerabilities, health-seeking practices, barriers to care, and access to water, sanitation, and other vital infrastructure.
Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events in Cities: Implications for Infrastructure and Livelihoods
This project brings together an expert, interdisciplinary team to investigate the impacts of flooding and extreme heat on urban infrastructure, and the resultant consequences for the livelihoods of poor urban residents in Ghana.