We are pleased to publish the Nexus Network thinkpiece ‘Services and Slums: rethinking infrastructures and provisioning across the nexus’ by Tatiana Thieme and Eszter Kovacs, from the University of Cambridge. Here is an overview of the topics, taken from the thinkpiece:
Growth of slums
The second wave of urbanisation taking place in the Global South has transformed the role and composition of urban settlements, with a rise in urban populations from 309 million in 1950 to a projected 3.9 billion people by 2030. Of this the informal urban population will be approximately 3 billion world-wide, representing a trebling of slum populations from today.
Urbanisation in Africa, Asia and Latin America continue to be strongly associated with the expansion of existing and the formation of new slums, wherein structural poverty and deep inequality in the access to resources, housing and labour opportunities are typical characteristics of the everyday living factors and conditions in these settlements.
The thinkpiece contributes to the debates and research concerning the structural and infrastructural challenges facing contemporary cities in the Global South, by focusing on the diverse geography of slums and their inadequate forms of provisioning. In these urban contexts, a nexus approach is most useful to reposition and contextualise the tight linkages between four critical spheres of provisioning: water, food, energy, and waste. Unplanned and makeshift infrastructures in slums have resulted in particularly close spatial and practical intersections of water sources, urban agriculture, food preparation, access to off-grid energy, as well as waste streams and open sewers.
There is a compelling case for extending and challenging current directions of the nexus literature through reviewing past and present opportunities in rural and urban slum spaces across the resources spectrum of energy-water-food and waste. We also emphasise the importance of better integrating the narratives and experiences of communities depending on services. This includes perspectives on traditional and alternative providers, especially where formal or recognised institutional support is irregular and unreliable.
Read the full ‘Services and Slums’ thinkpiece
You can read the full thinkpiece here ThiemeandKovacs_ServicesandSlumsNexusThinkpiece2015
About the authors
Dr Tatiana Thieme is a university lecturer in Human Geography; Fellow and Director of Studies of Fitzwilliam College. Tatiana’s research focuses on alternative cultural and economic geographies, particularly the politics of urban poverty and youth geographies of work in informal, underground and “hustle” economies. Her work also engages with people-environment relations in rapidly industrialising cities in the global South, with a particular focus on the urban political ecologies of sanitation and waste.
Dr Eszter Kovacs is a postdoctoral research associate working at the University of Cambridge working on the ESPA-funded project investigating the Political Economy of Water Security in the Himalayas. She has long-standing research interests in the links and processes between rural and urban spaces, and how these intersect with natural resource management and livelihoods across Eastern Europe and South Asia.
Read more thinkpieces
You can read more thinkpieces on Nexus topics such as ‘Imagining a sewerless society’; ‘Governance of the nexus: from buzz words to strategic action’; ‘Nexus technologies, urban circulation, and the co-production of water-energy’; ‘Approaches to knowledge co-production at the food, water, energy, and environment nexus’ and ‘Nexus thinking: can it slow the Great Acceleration?’ on the Thinkpieces page.
Image credit: ‘The journey to fetch fresh water for a resident of the Dharavi slum’ by Meena Kadri on Flickr.