Measuring resource use in Informal Settlements in developing countries


Dr Danielle Densley Tingley (Department of Civil and Structural Engineering – RISE (Resources, Infrastructure Systems and Built Environments Research Group)



Dr Seth Schindler (University of Manchester – School of Environment, Education and Development – Global Development Institute)

Grantham Scholar

Adriano Dias

Informal Settlements* respond for the most rapidly expanding areas in terms of population growth and densification in the world. According to the UN more than 60% of the worlds population live within these areas, and this is a growing number. The numbers are expected to double in the next two decades.  Precarious physical conditions, social and economic inequalities, as well as, deprivation of basic services and rights, are present in a day-to-day basis. Despite this being recognized as an issue, inhabitants of this places are often criminalized, displaced, and persecuted in measures that reflects the benefits and privileges of higher class minorities. This situation poses a threat to sustainability while raises inequality and unfairness among the developing regions of the world.

Urban metabolic analysis is promoted by the UN as tools to improve city resources and spatial management. The methodologies presented in literature, tend to point towards the necessity of reliable and accurate data, which is not a reality in the informality of developing world cities.

To connect the existing gaps between the quantitative and qualitative analysis within the Urban Metabolism framework, the Project aims to set grounds on developing a method that can capture the true conceptualization of informal settlements, its everchanging dynamics, while tackling its limitation on data accessibility. Field works will be used to provide the necessary understanding, from case studies in Latin America and Africa.

The focus of the studies will be the quantification stocks and flows of construction materials used on dwellings and infrastructure, while exploring the unfairness in spatial distribution, the access to basic services and the power relations that drives the continuous inequality present in the resource management issue within a developing world city.

* Favelas, shantytowns, shacks, villas miseria, bidonvilles, squatter settlements and other terms are commonly used names.


Check out my supervisors research pages here: Dr Danielle Densley Tingley