Revitalising informal settlements and their environments

Health and economic benefits of environmentally sensitive watercycle management in informal urban settlements

Funding agency

Wellcome Trust Our Planet, Our Health funding program, with support from the Asian Development Bank’s Future Cities program.

Project period

2017 - 2022


Project aims

More than one billion people live in informal settlements globally. Over two billion live without basic sanitation. Climate change and rapid population growth in these settlements exacerbate water and sanitation challenges. Polluted water supplies and inadequate sanitation are leading causes of disease in these communities. A new approach is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation for all.

RISE aims to provide research-based evidence that a localised, water sensitive approach to revitalising informal settlements can deliver sustainable, cost-effective health and environmental improvements. RISE is co-designing location-specific solutions that integrate green infrastructure, such as constructed wetlands, to strengthen the whole-of-life water and sanitation cycle.

Working across 24 settlements in Fiji and Indonesia, RISE aims to enable these communities to:

  • Recycle their own wastewater (both blackwater and greywater);
  • Harvest rainwater;
  • Create green space for water cleansing and food cultivation;
  • Restore natural waterways to encourage diversity; and,
  • Reduce vulnerability to flooding and climate change.

Multiple benefits are anticipated from this multifaceted intervention. Prof David Johnston, with the assistance of Dr Rohan Sweeney, is leading one of the project’s five main research areas. This research area is focused on understanding the impacts of the intervention on the health and well-being of adults and children living in the settlement.

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