Towards Trajectories of Inclusion: Making infrastructure work for the most marginalised

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies


The bulk of global population growth until 2050 is projected to occur in cities in Africa and Asia. International agreements, such as UN Habitat's New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals seek to ensure that this growth in as inclusive as possible, yet cities are notoriously unequal places. Our previous GCRF-funded research ('The Unknown City') highlighted the overwhelming significance of securing housing tenure for the most marginal urban residents. The possibility of eviction hangs heavily over everyday life and wellbeing for the urban poor. This project builds on that work. Security of tenure both shapes and is shaped by state decisions to extend infrastructure to 'off grid' settlements. Extending infrastructure can be part of legalising trajectories towards housing security, but can also reverse such trajectories for some by producing new exclusions. This project seeks to bring greater clarity to this complexity and identify ways in which infrastructure for the most marginalised can initiate 'trajectories of inclusion'. The project is designed as action research in which the ultimate goal is a supported intervention in marginalised urban neighbourhood with the aim of implementing findings around these trajectories of inclusion for poor urban residents. The effects of this intervention will be carefully evaluated during the project and the results will be widely communicated.

Research builds on the Unknown City project, working in the same cities with the same partners with whom successful collaborations are now well established. The project will focus on two sites from that project in each city in order to develop longer term data sets but it introduces four new neighbourhoods in each country and develops very different approaches, including the central objective of the intervention. Research will be conducted in three countries: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and the independent but unrecognised northern region of Somalia, Somaliland. These four countries have extremely dynamic by highly contrasting urban environments. Most research will be conducted in the capital cities, respectively, Dhaka, Colombo, Harare and Hargeisa. All four cities are expanding rapidly and are the subject of major urban redevelopment programmes. The project involves core partner academic organisations in each city engaged in research and evaluation of these redevelopment programmes. In addition to two neighbourhoods involved in previous research, research will expand to two additional contrasting neighbourhoods in the capital and two further neighbourhoods in a secondary city in order to highlight if the capitals are unusual in their planning approaches.

This selection of six neighbourhoods in each of these four countries are the location for the first stage of research. A variety of techniques including focus group discussions, a large survey and in-depth interviews will be employed to map access to five key infrastructure grids - water, sanitation, energy, transport and communications. This will form a detailed picture of patterns of differential access to these services and the wide variation between 'off-grid' and 'on-grid'. The second stage of research will move beyond these neighbourhoods to follow the grids. In each country, two of these infrastructures will be identified and an approach known as 'Systems of Provision' will map the grid, identifying key individuals responsible for delivery of each service. This will explain the differential patterns of access identified in the first stage of research. These two research stages will lead to and inform the final stage of the supported intervention to enhance accesswhich will be carried out in conjunction with grassroots organisations in each city. The project will engage with local government, NGOs and infrastructure companies throughout with the aim of demonstrating the potential of these interventions and communicate the need to focus on trajectories of inclusion.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
We identify six distinct audiences who will benefit from the research:
1. Residents of selected neighbourhoods involving both displaced and 'host' became the empirical focus of the research in order to advance the second target above;
2. National and local NGOs offer access to understanding what is already being done and identifying barriers to improving market and recognising non-market responses;
3. Private companies involved in infrastructure provision related to water, sanitation, energy, transport and communications.
4. Local, municipal and national government where planning authorities have the capacity to regulate to implement change in infrastructure provision.
5. Members of the general public, in the countries where research is taking place, the UK and internationally, ultimately to increase understanding and pressure for change;
6. International organisations and major donors control significant resources in many of the areas we plan to conduct research.

How will they benefit from this research?
1. New information: the research results will be communicated in a wide variety of formats that will be accessible to all target audiences.
2. Developing new connections: communication tools will bring different audiences together, particularly the stakeholder workshop and the Photovoice approach.
3. Practical impact: the primary objective of the research is to establish a supported intervention that will bring real change to the residents of selected neighbourhoods and demonstrate potential trajectories of inclusion.
4. Wider impact: the demonstration effect and wider communication of the intervention will help ensure benefits are experienced beyond the selected neighbourhoods.

What will be done to ensure that they have the opportunity to benefit from this activity?
Target audiences will not simply be presented with results but engaged in the research process throughout, with opportunities to comment on research design from the beginning and crucially the opportunity to inform the main practical interventions. We have set out 10 tools of engagement:
1. Engagement with residents of selected neighbourhoods will form the basis for co-production as well as an important means of evaluating results. This will occur initially through community meetings and focus group discussions.
2. Stakeholder workshops will provide a further opportunity for co-production, bringing together community leaders with audiences 2, 3, 4 and 6 above.
3. Photovoice will deepen understanding of the different perspectives of these audiences. The perspective taking workshop will provide a way of highlighting and discussing these differences as well as a means through which residents can engage with other stakeholders without usual power imbalances.
4. Comics will be based on discussion with all stakeholders and will provide a way of visualizing and a means of discussing prospective interventions. They will also provide a means of disseminating results in a particularly attractive format.
5. Direct policy engagement will be sought wherever possible and will involve opportunities to present arising from national stakeholder groups as well as international engagement.
6. Supported interventions are the key tool to bring together engagement across the project and to send a clear message about what is needed and what can be achieved.
7. Media engagement will be pursued in all countries where research will take place..
8. Blog posts offer a related but slightly more controllable outlet which will be picked up by members of our target audiences.
9. Open access publications The project will have a target of 10 peer reviewed open access publications.
10. A bespoke project website will be set up as soon as the project starts and will be the main repository for all information about the project and all outputs.
Description The research is taking place in 24 locations: 6 in each of the four countries. All four countries are DAC countries (Bangladesh, Somaliland, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe). We have completed initial community profiles for each of these 24 locations, some of which are now published. These community profiles highlight the wide variety of experiences of inclusion and exclusion, although point to some important similarities around off-grid service provision, which research is now developing. The baseline survey is now completed and cleaned. We have data on almost 10,000 households in these locations. Data is now being analysed but presents an extremely detailed picture of access to services amongst poor households in each of these countries. We are exploring patterns of inclusion and exclusion in this data and using individual qualitative interviews to further investigate themes as they emerge. We have just completed the questionnaire for a re-survey of 20% of the households involved in the original survey. This will allow us to highlight any changes over this 18 month period.
Exploitation Route The outcomes are identifying ways in which inclusion may be supported in the urban areas where we are working. in each country we are working in collaboration with key non-academic partners to support responses as a result of these emerging findings. We have prepared focused interventions, carried out by these non-academic partners which will demonstrate the utility of approaches taken in the project. We hope that these interventions will help to demonstrate what works in terms of advancing including in these areas.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description Our findings have formed the basis for a practical intervention in each country, designed by a non-academic partner who was not involved in the research. In Sri Lanka and Bangladesh these have been hard interventions in areas we have conducted research - a new groundwater system in a tea plantation in Sri Lanka and a rainwater harvesting scheme in a coastal town in Bangladesh. In Zimbabwe and Somaliland these have been 'soft' interventions based on advice and support for key actors - the NGO Dialogue on Shelter in Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Planning in Somaliland.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Inclusive Urban Infrastructure policy seminars held in Zimbabwe 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Clear 'messages and policy implications' were shared and openings for further discussion (next steps of SOP analyses and Key Informant Interviews) created. The seminars triggered discussions on financing of inclusive urban infrastructure. We had representatives of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (in both) and the Association of Housing Finance (private mortgage lenders) in Harare. Apart from the traditional risk factors there are cases we will be tracking to illuminate the settlement-level and institutional gaps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
Description Research launch workshop 'Inclusive urban infrastructure for underserved communities in Sri Lanka' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The workshop raised awareness and interest among the attendees and follow-up queries from them are evident. We look forward to engaging further with these diverse stakeholders in the course of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021