The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Infrastructure Governance and Planning

In the urban global south, rapid paced urbanisation often occurs without adequate investment in infrastructure and basic services, with particularly severe consequences for the millions residing in low-income or unplanned areas.

Research in the wider field of urban planning and development has shown that access to infrastructure services is vital to wealth creation, human well-being and environmental sustainability.

DPU staff have conducted a series of action-research projects straddling these themes, in collaboration with organisations working in the global south. An important contribution has been in highlighting where conventional supply-driven and centralised systems of infrastructure provision are inadequate to address the needs of the urban and peri-urban poor, and demonstrating the existing efforts of communities to meet their own needs.

The complexity that lies at the heart of the nexus has been explored by DPU staff in a number of ways:

  1. In documenting shifts in governance approaches to the production of urban and peri-urban infrastructure
  2. By examining potential and existing non-market based approaches to the provision of universal services
  3. Through the investigation of the effects of infrastructure development on well-being, environmental justice and social inclusion.
  4. By assessing the extent and ways in which infrastructure supports more resilient urban systems.

DPU research has furthered knowledge and informed policy on the potential synergies between pro-poor urban mobility and informal settlement upgrading through an examination of urban metrocables in Colombian cities; governance of water and sanitation issues in the peri-urban interface and the co-production of key sanitation services in Africa, Asia and Latin America; and the impact of the built environmental on the transfer of disease vectors in Kenya.

Research Projects

Urban mobility and poverty: Lessons from Medellín and Soacha, Colombia
Funded by the ESRC and UK DfID, this two-year research project, conducted in conjunction with Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Medellín campus) and Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, explored the experience of Medellín and Soacha in Colombia where aerial cable cars and revitalised urban spaces has been used as a method for poverty reduction and urban integration. In addition to the detailed Colobmian cases the produced out of this project also brings together cases in Latin America where aerial cable-cars have either been built or proposed in low-income neighbourhoods, including Caracas and Rio de Janeiro.

Governance of Water and Sanitation Services for the Peri-urban Poor
Conducted 2003-06, this UK DfID-funded research analysed the access to water and sanitation in metropolitan regions of India, Tanzania, Egypt, Mexico and Venezuela. A key research finding was that such access is frequently needs-driven and informal, rather than the direct result of formal policies, which do not take these everyday practices into consideration. The project spawned a groundbreaking diagnostic framework, which enables the analysis of governance approaches to addressing water poverty.

Participatory action planning in the peri-urban context of Hubli-Dharward, India
Over a six-year period (2001-06), DPU staff worked in collaboration with Universities of Bangor and Birmingham and various Indian partner organisations in a stream of action-research projects dedicated to enhance the understanding of changes affecting local livelihoods and the use of natural resources in the peri-urban context of Hubli-Dharward in India. The projects were funded by the Natural Resource Systems Programme (NRSP - DFID).

Guidelines for Strategic Environmental Planning and Management of the Peri-Urban Interface
With contributions from a range of DPU staff, these guidelines comprise three short volumes, a flyer, and a poster. They seek to provide a basic understanding of the processes involved in the environmental planning and management of the PUI, as well as a clear appreciation of the principles and components required within these processes.

The guidelines present a range of 'ingredients' aimed at improving the practice of planning and management in a range of localities.