The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Donald Brown

Donald was a recipient of the DPU60 PhD scholarship, covering full fees, a monthly stipend for three years and fieldwork travel.


After completing my first degree in urban and regional planning, I started my career in Malawi working on peri-urban water and sanitation issues. Through this experience, I developed a keen interest in the role of communities in building cities that are more resilient to climate change. This interest drew me to the DPU, where I completed a MSc in Urban Development Planning in 2012.

Since then, I have worked as a research consultant with various agencies across the public, private and non-profit sectors. My most recent work has focused on how community-driven finance mechanisms can support urban adaptation; how urban density can enhance affordable housing opportunities; how informal dwellers and workers can contribute to global environmental agendas; and how the dynamics of urban violence affect public space.

As a MPhil/PhD student at the DPU, my research focuses on better understanding the effects of climate change on urban health. While these effects are expected to be wide-ranging, the precise ways in which changes in climatic means and extremes will interact with various other stressors to shape patterns of morbidity and pre-mature mortality remain poorly understood. This is especially the case in small urban centres, where the majority of the world’s urban population lives, but where relatively little research has been conducted on risk and health. Building on past experience, my research will address these knowledge gaps using a case study of Karonga, a small town in the Northern Region of Malawi.

Key Topics: urban planning, public health, urbanisation, sub-Saharan Africa