Rapidly-growing cities represent unique challenges and opportunities. Unplanned growth often outpaces infrastructure development and occurs at the expense of a city’s ecological foundations, undermining residents’ wellbeing and the city’s sustainability.
The SEI Initiative on City Health and Well-being will use novel approaches to investigate how evolving cities are affecting the well-being of residents and how this interacts with the overall health of city systems: What makes a city healthy for its residents? Could citizens be actively engaged in monitoring the health of their city? These are some of the central questions informing our initiative case study activities in Asia and Africa.
Novel methods of data generation and collection will be employed across four interconnected activities in two case study location (Nakuru in Kenya and Udon Thani in Thailand). These activities are:
- Understanding the impact of urban forms’ impact on health and wellbeing
- Co-designing urban citizen science monitoring
- Urban metabolism and participatory modelling
- Governance for greater urban equity and inclusion
The research will contribute to a rethink of urban development practices. The knowledge generated through this action research and boundary partner engagement will inform sustainable and participatory planning for urban environments.
The new evidence we generate will be aimed at guiding policy recommendations to equitably maximize the well-being of urban populations whilst minimizing resource consumption and without undermining their resilience.
Udon Thani in Northern Thailand is a rapidly developing small city that is planning ahead to ensure its growth is green and sustainable.
What does a healthy and liveable city look like? This initiative is working with residents of the Northern Thailand city of Udon Thani to find out.
Non-traditional urban planning tools – think art and poetry – underpin new ways of co-designing city infrastructure to address health and mobility issues.
For two years, an SEI-led team of researchers measured groundwater levels throughout the city in search of answers to Bangalore's water shortage.
SEI is helping develop legislation on air quality in Nairobi to improve the lives of the city’s most vulnerable people.
After decades of car-centred urban planning in the Tallinn, the city plans to give the centre back to its people and enliven urban culture.
Uncontrolled growth, luxury construction and gentrification are driving out many residents and making life more difficult for all.
Will introducing green roofs, green walls, rain gardens and planting trees improve our cities?
Bringing nature back to cities and workplaces - with Steve Cinderby, who has studied the positive connection between green spaces and well-being
Environmental monitoring with citizen science in Nakuru, Kenya
Can citizen-led monitoring help local governments manage cities better and improve services to people? This was the question CHeW investigated through environmental monitoring using citizen science techniques.
SEI supported environmental leaders from a community in Nakuru, Kenya using a data collection app called Epicollect to map out environmental challenges facing their local area. EpiCollect enables questionnaires to be created which are then accessible on mobile phones. User responses to questions are linked to their locations using the phone’s GPS.
Between April and June 2019, a group of 15 Environment Champions surveyed their neighbourhood (called Free Area) taking pictures of problem areas and documenting the status of them over the time-period. The SEI team helped co-organize information collection activities and afterwards shared findings back to the community and local government representatives including public health officers, County Government and County Assembly, Nakuru Water and Sewerage Company (NAWASCO), ward administrators, garbage collectors and the Area Chief, during a workshop held in mid-2019.
The survey brought a focus on the dominant issues which were related to waste (open dumping) and water and drainage (leaking/broken water and sewer pipes, and open or unsafe manholes). The data from the survey was also mapped so that users are able to identify where the problems were and to help the relevant authorities resolve them.
This is one example of how, through the CheW initiative, SEI is striving to catalyze citizen-led activities within rapidly growing cities and to embed them into improved urban governance practices.
This pilot study shows that undertaking purposeful activity in public green space has the potential to promote health and prevent mental ill health.
This report provides a first-ever assessment of how opportunities for low-carbon development are distributed across the world’s urban areas.
Ontological frameworks applied to Smart City research and policy
As part of the City Health And Wellbeing (CHEW) initiative, Dr. Arkalgud Ramprasad was invited to present his work on ontological frameworks applied to research, policy, and practice. CHeW is particularly interested in how such a framework can be applied to sustainable cities.