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Development planner specialising in squatter settlement upgrading policies and participatory approaches to development. Areas of expertise include human development, housing, urban development, participation and Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach. His PhD explores different strategies to squatter settlement upgrading through the evaluation of projects from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. As an output, the the PhD proposes a methodology for assessing the impacts of slum upgrading programmes through the lens of Sen’s Capability Approach. Since then, Alex has focused on taking such ideas forward, by undertaking consultancies, action learning initiatives and research activities which have been concerned with examining the role of collective action in pursing wellbeing and justice in the urban global south.
In 2009, Alex conducted a consultancy for UNDP-Brazil using participatory methods for the assessment of needs in the 10 municipalities of lowest Human Development Indices in Brazil. In 2008 and 2010, Alex partnered with Leonard Cheshire Disability & Inclusive Development on an initiative exploring capabilities and disabilities in low-income urban settlements, which involved the running of two workshops, one in Delhi and the other in Mumbai together with local community based organisations.
With Architecture Sans Frontieres – UK, Alex has been running together with ASF-UK colleagues workshops on participatory design which took place in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (2009 and 2010) and in Nairobi, Kenya (2011). In each of such contexts, the workshop took place in partnership with local social movements and NGOs. In the case of Salvador, the workshop partnered with the Movimento dos Sem Teto da Bahia (MSTB) and in Nairobi the partnership was established with the NGO Pamoja Trust and the social movement Muungano. The workshops produced a methodology on an integrated approach to participatory slum upgrading which is outlined in the Change by Design publication.
From 2009 to 2012, Alex run with the team of the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development programme its practice module. A series of action learning initiatives were set up, which focused on environmental justice in open urban spaces in London and Accra, Ghana. In London, the work focused on the impacts of large scale planned interventions (i.e. the Olympics) in the use and appropriation of open spaces. Some outputs of such initiative can be seen in the Justice in the Green website: www.justiceinthegreen.org.uk. In Accra, the work focused on the actual and potential role of urban and peri-urban agriculture for supporting an environmentally just process of urbanisation.
Recently, that partnership with the ESD team has evolved into the initiative called the ‘Heuristics of Mapping Urban Environmental Change’, which consists of an action learning platform to examine processes and purposes of mapping. More information about this on-going initiative can be seen in the heuristics of mapping micro-website: www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu/portlets/dpu/mapping-environmental-change.
Outcomes from such initiatives are shared through publications but also through teaching in different Masters programmes, mostly focusing on the application of the capability approach and participatory methodologies to development in the urban context of the global south. Alex is a visiting lecturer on the post-graduate programme in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management of the University of Cape Town, Masters on Development and Emergency Practices at CENDEP, Oxford Brookes University and Masters on Human Development and Food Security of Roma Tre University.
Main research interests include:
housing and squatter settlement upgrading;
environmental justice in urban areas;
urban resilience and livelihoods;
deepening democratic practices through participatory approaches to research, planning, design and monitoring & evaluation;