MADA contributes to multi-million dollar water project for Asia-Pacific region

MADA’s Head of Architecture, Professor Diego Ramírez-Lovering, has been selected to lead the development of design and engagement models for a multi-million dollar international research project that aims to improve the quality of life of urban slum dwellers in Indonesia and Fiji. Funding for the project includes an AUD$14 million grant from the Wellcome Trust’s “Our Planet Our Health” program and with support from the Asian Development Bank.

Across 24 sites in Fiji and Indonesia, the project aims to help residents gain access to clean drinking water and reduce, by at least 80%, their exposure to faecal contamination. The lack of access to clean drinking water and contamination of waterways by sewage exposes residents, particularly children, to significant health risks.

Professor Ramírez-Lovering explains, “We believe that providing safe water, toilets and better housing will not only aid physical health, but will allow communities to feel more connected to their environment, have a sense of belonging and overall develop stronger communities.”

Along with community engagement committees to be established at each site, Professor Ramírez-Lovering and his team will be developing a suite of design templates to be used as the project is rolled out from house to house. “This project is unique in that, by working with local communities, we help locals to build with familiar construction methods, but adapted in ways that deal with sanitation and climate change,” Professor Diego Ramírez-Lovering said.

The five-year project is being led by the Director of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Professor Rebekah Brown, and includes engineers, sociologists, architects, economists, public health scientists and biologists from both Monash and partner institutions including Stanford and Emory Universities in the United States and the University of Melbourne. On-site development will be undertaken with technical advice from engineers from Melbourne Water and South East Water.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said the informal settlement revitalisation research project was of great importance to help combat the pressures caused by the rapid rise in global population.

“Rapid urbanisation and the effects of climate change have a devastating effect on people around the world who live without adequate access to the most vital requirement for a healthy, stable and prosperous community – clean water,” Professor Gardner said.

“Monash already has a strong reputation for leading major, multidisciplinary, international research projects which have the ability to transform lives. Through our work, we have become recognised as a world leader in urban water research, influencing policy, regulation and practice.

“Our agility in bringing together teams of exceptional researchers across disciplines as diverse as medicine, design and economics both within our own University and across partner institutions and industries, positions us perfectly to lead this major global consortium. I am delighted that the Wellcome Trust and the Asian Development Bank are part of this important work,” Professor Gardner said.

For more information about the project, visit:

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