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Mapping deprivation levels of urban neighbourhoods in African cities

IGSD is working with the African Population and Health Research Center in Kenya to develop transdisciplinary networks that leverage Earth observation and community-driven geospatial information to ensure access to basic urban services.

These networks, funded by UKRI's Global Challenges Research Fund, will develop innovative approaches to connect stakeholders at all levels. By joining up expertise and perspectives from several research fields (e.g. Earth Observation, Geo-computational modelling, Urban Development) and stakeholders from international agencies, national and city government, as well as NGOs and grassroots groups, these networks will derive policy guidelines to support the use of state-of-the-art tools and methodologies to inform policy making and decisions. Furthermore, they will produce a comprehensive global information repository on deprivation levels of urban neighbourhoods, leveraging existing urban observatories and international standards and geospatial databases.

Urbanisation in the global South has been accompanied by the proliferation of marginalised urban neighbourhoods deprived of access to basic services and infrastructure, e.g. adequate housing, water, sanitation, transport, security, lighting, and healthcare. UN-Habitat estimates that a billion people live in slums and informal settlements and this number is projected to reach 2 billion by 2050.

Three significant knowledge gaps undermine current efforts to monitor progress towards the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 10 (Reducing Inequalities).

  • First, the data available for cities worldwide is patchy and insufficient to differentiate between the wide variety of poor neighbourhoods and their diverse levels of access to basic services.
  • Second, existing approaches to map deprived neighbourhoods (e.g. household surveys, Earth Observation, community-driven data collection) either lack transferability and scalability, or fail to engage and effectively include local residents.
  • Third, there is no evidence base to support policy and decision making as regards to the effectiveness and impacts of possible interventions.

Our Approach: transdisciplinary networking for sustainable development

We propose that the these gaps can only be properly addressed by a transdisciplinary network that brings together academics from several disciplines (e.g. environmental studies, social sciences, health), representatives from international organisations (e.g. UN), non-governmental organisations, community representatives, and national and local governments.

The Urban Equality Observatory is a trans-disciplinary network that leverages Earth observation and community-driven geospatial information to ensure access to basic urban services.

This network will aim at developing an innovative approach to connect stakeholders at different levels (international, national, city and community) and produce a comprehensive global information repository on deprivation levels of urban neighbourhoods, leveraging existing urban observatories and international standards and geospatial databases

Beneficiary Countries

Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania

Impact Summary

This network will develop innovative tools and methodologies for tracking progress towards the sustainable development goals, in particular SDG 11 and 10 as well as several others (e.g., SDG 1-5). This will be enabled by joining up expertise and perspectives from several research fields (e.g. Earth Observation, Geo-computational modelling, Urban Development) and stakeholders from international agencies, national and city government, as well as NGOs and grassroots groups (e.g. Slum Dwellers International). This group will also derive policy guidelines to support stakeholders at national and city level for using state-of-the-art tools and methodologies to inform decision and policy making, as well as to improve transparency and accountability as regards to urban development policies and interventions. The ultimate goal of the network is to spark a large-scale research collaborative enterprise which addresses new areas of research that can contribute to achieve the sustainable development goals, whilst strengthening local and national social networks and empowering underserved communities, women and minority groups to influence change and decision making.

The Team

Principal Investigator

Dr Caroline Kabaria, African Population and Health Research Center

Co-Investigators:

Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, University of Warwick

Collaborators:

Dr Monica Kuffer, University of Twente

Dana R Thomson, University of Southampton

Dr Gianluca Boo, University of Southampton

Funded by

GCRF Strapline 

The IDEAMAPS network aims to address the current fragmentation of mapping services in urban slums by adopting a joined-up approach and collaboration between members of the network and all relevant external stakeholders

Our vision is to design a system that will push the boundaries and overcome the weaknesses current approaches to mapping slums, informal settlements, and areas of inadequate housing. This will be accomplished by joining up a multisectoral and transdisciplinary network of researchers, technologists and societal stakeholders who will collaborate to co-design an Integrated Deprived Area Mapping System (IDEAMAPS) approach to map and address neighbourhood deprivation and perform pilot studies in Nairobi, Accra and Lagos.

This approach will consist of an innovative combination of three components: (a) engagement of stakeholders; (b) modelling and data infrastructure techniques; (c) an integrative framework, which defines assessment criteria for characterising neighbourhood deprivation in connection with sustainable development indicators and a co-designed monitoring and evaluation framework for the network’s next phase.

Beneficiary Countries

Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria

Impact Summary

The central premise of this project is that community members and decision-makers will have an improved co-produced evidence base as well as strengthened communication networks based on common understandings and trust to mitigate disaster risk, upgrade infrastructure, and monitor sustainable development.

The project will establish strong networks of key stakeholders within three cities ready to carry forward implementation of an Integrated Deprivation Area Mapping System (IDEAMAPS) in the following three-year project. The team will also work to develop a scalable proof-of-concept frameworks and techniques to map deprivation in these and other LMIC cities and a shared agenda to be pursued in the following three-year project.

As an overarching outcome, the project will enable the transformation of practices, improve knowledge among a diverse range of stakeholders and enhance capacity to promote equitable resilience. The expected long-term impact of this outcome is a contribution towards the targets of: ensuring access for all adequate, safe, and affordable housing (SDG 11.1); achieving adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all (SDG 6.2); and reduction in the number of deaths and people affected by disasters, including water related disasters (SDG 1.5).

The Team

Principal Investigator

Dr Caroline Kabaria, African Population and Health Research Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, University of Warwick

Co-Investigator :

Dr Monica Kuffer, University of Twente

Dana R Thomson, University of Southampton

Dr Gianluca Boo, University of Southampton

Dr Godwin Yeboah, University of Warwick

Dr Peter Elias, University of Lagos

Dr Helen Elsey, University of York

Funded by

GCRF LogoUKRI Logo


SDG11SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

The expected long-term impact of this project is a contribution towards the SDG 11 targets of:

              • Ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums (SDG 11.1)


SDG10 Icon SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
              • By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status (SDG 10.2)


SDG 6 Icon SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
              • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations (SDG 6.2)

SDG 1 Icon SDG 1: No Poverty
              • By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters (SDG 1.5)