The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Report on ‘Participatory Informal Settlement Upgrading and Well-being in Kisumu, Kenya’

2 December 2013

SDP students' research in Kenya, 2013

The MSc Social Development Practice Programme is pleased to announce the launch and publication of a student report entitled ‘Participatory Informal Settlement Upgrading and Well-being in Kisumu, Kenya’. 

The report is the result of a three month research assignment carried out from February - June 2013 by MSc students on the Social Development Practice (SDP) programme at the Development Planning Unit, UCL. Each year during terms two and three, the practice module of the programme focuses on an action learning initiative embedded in a real case scenario, taking place in an urban area within the Global South. In 2013 the project focused on three informal settlements in Kisumu, Kenya, looking to understand how a process of community-led planning could support the full range of residents’ aspirations. This was undertaken with the support of international NGO Practical Action, an organisation that works to implement sustainable technologies in relation to urban services, energy, food and agriculture and disaster risk reduction, to challenge conditions of poverty.

In total, the research process consisted of three months of desk research and policy analysis, followed by two and a half weeks of primary field research in Kisumu, where students were joined by Masters students from Maseno University and the Great Lakes University of Kisumu.

Students were asked to examine four different water and sanitation interventions within three low-income neighbourhoods in the city of Kisumu. Each intervention represented a different model of service delivery, and students assessed the well-being impacts of each, exploring dimensions including dignity, health, empowerment, security, recognition, accessibility and equity in relation to diverse identities within the settlement. The research also explored the wider institutional environment and urban context in which the service delivery models were embedded, reflecting upon potentials for scaling up and sustaining the positive participatory processes of each model. This analysis was undertaken with the objective of examining the underlying structuring conditions which determine an enabling or disabling environment for enhancing well-being.

Beyond the conclusions drawn specifically on the Kisumu and Kenyan experience, this report also signifies an attempt to explore more broadly the potentials for participatory settlement upgrading initiatives, highlighting those processes which can act as a catalyst for more transformative socio-economic change.

Download in PDF format.

Visit the SDP Masters programme webpage to find out more about the course.