UCL News


DPU hosts Chennai workshop

20 May 2005

A research team from UCL's Development Planning Unit (DPU) recently organised an international workshop in Chennai, India, to tackle the inequalities in the city's water and sanitation supplies.

The workshop was part of a global project that examines ways ofimproving local service provision to poor peri-urban populations in large cities around the world. The three-year study by Dr Julio Davila, Mrs Adriana Allen and Ms Pascale Hofmann (DPU) is comparing urban governance and management regimes in five metropolitan areas: Dar es Salaam, Chennai, Caracas, Mexico City and Cairo.

With financial support from the UK government's Department for International Development and in collaboration with local teams of researchers, the project team is looking to improve services by implementing agencies in peri-urban interface (PUI) zones, where the population depends to some extent on natural resources for food, water and fuel. Since 1998 the DPU has been engaged in a number of activities in search for a more sustainable environment and better conditions for people living in these areas.

The Chennai workshop concluded that the city's suburbs suffered from inadequate facilities that limited access to improved water and sanitation in poorer areas. A comprehensive framework of action that allows government, the private sector and affected communities to address these utility supplies was discussed.

Dr Davila said in the Hindu newspaper: "Peri-urban areas have a heterogeneous, diverse range of communities. The fruits of the scheme should not be targeted only towards the middle class, the more vocal and politically influential group, but also people who have dual forms of livelihood, both of a rural and urban nature; fishing and working in the city, for example."

All of the areas in the study have different service management regimes, and the DPU team will bring together data from these areas for the first time. Mrs Allen said: "We aim to point out the impact on the living conditions and livelihoods of poor families and on the environment in these localities. Our findings will be used to create draft guidelines in improved service governance and management, to be piloted in these areas, and will facilitate regional and international dialogues on these issues."