- Research project
- – Western Pacific
Duration:1st phase January 2022 – September 2022; 2nd phase January 2023 – December 2024
Our research aims to answer the question:
How can the climate resilience and social inclusion of WASH services inurban informal settlements be strengthened with locally adapted climate science and knowledge, planning support systems and champions?
Specifically, the research aims to answer the following sub-questions:
We will undertake research and development on planning support systems (PSS) (tools and activities) for integrated and collaborative planning across different stakeholder groups; including citizen science to assist with localised climate knowledge; leveraging strengths of existing decision and PSS via cross‐country regional learning and sharing; and, research (formative and behavioural) to influence political and societal support for improved services to informal settlements.
By planning support systems, we mean information frameworks that integrate a range of information, including geospatial data, to support a specific planning context, such as, here, WASH in urban informal settlements. They might include frameworks, spatial platforms, data collection methodologies, visualisations, or decision support tools. We also want to support diverse voices to participate in planning processes, such as residents themselves, and those with intersecting gender, disability, and social exclusion experiences.
This research is intended to be closely partnered with stakeholders from national and town planning departments, WASH departments and water utilities, as well as learning from the experiences of settlement residents. We will codevelop recommendations for integrated and collaborative planning processes for climate-resilient WASH in marginalised urban environments.
The desired longer-term outcomes of this research are to:
The project includes three key components:
To accomplish these three components, our team, consisting of locally based research organisations partnered with the International WaterCentre at Griffith University, will conduct household interviews, surveys, and other participatory data collection methods; collect and validate relevant environmental and climate data; hold workshops and interviews with key relevant stakeholders; develop and test tools and activities to contribute to planning support systems relevant to each country.
Research results will be analysed and synthesised across the three countries. We recognise the research will have different relevance to different users, and as such will be producing specific outputs relevant to in-country stakeholders, community members, and broader practitioner groups.
Melanesia is rapidly urbanising, at between 3-4% per year1. For example, the urban population of Vanuatu is expected to double between 2017 and 20272. In the absence of, or where limited supply of affordable housing exists, much of this urban growth will occur in informal settlements, though there are some examples of identified areas of housing growth, such as in Luganville, Vanuatu. Informal settlements are defined by the United Nations as lacking secure land or housing tenure, generally non-compliant with planning and land use regulations, often on marginal or hazardous land, and lacking access to infrastructure and services3.
Past research, including by IWC, has indicated that access to WASH services in urban and peri-urban informal settlements across Melanesia is broadly inadequate4. In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that WASH services that do exist for urban and peri-urban informal settlements are future-proof – they are not planned with resilience to shocks and change in mind, such as climate change or the needs of changing populations within water catchments.
Throughout 2022, Phase 1 of this project, based in urban areas of Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, all of which have large informal urban and peri-urban settlements, as well as some designated areas of new housing growth, explored contextually relevant processes that enable urban WASH planning that improves the resilience of WASH service delivery models to climate change and future population changes. The research built on recent work integrating spatial analyses of climate and other environmental factors to identifying appropriate and resilient WASH services in informal settlements across Melanesia.
Key findings of this research included:
Research Brief: Investigating the transmission of faecal pathogens in urban informal settlements in and around Port Vila, Vanuatu, recognising biophysical and demographic diversity: https://www.watercentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Sanderson_MIWM_Vanuatu_WASHResearchBrief_V2_.pdf
Research Brief: Investigating the transmission of faecal pathogens in urban informal settlements in and around Port Vila, Vanuatu, recognising biophysical and demographic diversity: https://www.watercentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Sanderson_MIWM_Vanuatu_ResearchBrief_V1_Nov2020.pdf
Project Synopsis: Planning for Climate-resilient Urban WASH in Pacific Islands: https://www.watercentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PlanningforClimateResilientUrbanWASHinPIC_project-outline.pdf
Working Paper for the World Bank: Water and Sanitation Services for Informal Settlements in Honiara, Solomon Islands, by Dr Regina Souter and Pablo Orams: https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/514751574138362122/pdf/Water-and-Sanitation-Services-for-Informal-Settlements-in-Honiara-Solomon-Islands.pdf
R.Souter, Nov 2013
R. Souter, Nov 2018
D.Hearn, May 2015