Measuring resource use in informal settlements in developing countries

Lead supervisor: Dr Danielle Densley Tingley, Civil and Structural Engineering
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Seth Schindler, Geography

Deadline: Thursday 23 February 2017

Applications for this project have now closed.

Project description

This is an interdisciplinary project that will assess resource use of informal settlements in cities in developing countries (for example, water and construction materials). This research will reconcile qualitative and quantitative approaches, and employ multi-scalar (micro-scale and citywide) methods suited to developing countries. The candidate will conduct fieldwork in at least two cities in developing countries during years two and three of the project.

Cities foster economic growth and innovation, but they are also drivers of global environmental change. Urbanization is occurring most rapidly in developing countries, necessitating off-the-charts resource consumption. Informal settlements account for much of this growth, yet their non-standardized nature inhibits traditional assessment methods. While there is a consensus that sustainability should be enhanced and inequality should be reduced in developing countries, policy makers lack in-depth knowledge about resource use and requirements in informal settlements. This project aims to develop methods to generate baseline data on the resource requirements of informal settlements.

Phase I will include household surveys and in-depth interviews with residents, as well as providers of resources (i.e. public, private, formal and informal) and key stakeholders (governmental officials, local entrepreneurs and prominent members of civil society). By establishing an in-depth understanding of everyday practices of resource provision and access, and housing construction, the results from Phase I will facilitate the identification of key measurement points from which quantitative data is required for the development of a robust model of resource use. In Phase II a material flow accounting of key metabolic flows and stocks in the built environment will be modelled.

A suitable candidate would be comfortable handling big data sets, and have an interest in the built environment and urban studies. Furthermore, a strong candidate should exhibit intercultural communication skills, and be willing to conduct fieldwork in at least two cities in developing countries during years two and three.

Keywords: engineering, urban studies, development studies, big data, smart cities, sustainability

Subject areas: Civil and Structural Engineering, Urban Studies, Environmental Science and Engineering, Architecture and the Built Environment, Human Geography, Data Analysis

Funding notes

This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.