USP awarded over £500,000 for South African research project 

tpThe Department of Urban Studies and Planning is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded over £500,000 to fund a new collaborative research project between the UK and South Africa.

The project Living the urban periphery: investment, infrastructure and economic change in African city-regions, will contribute to the economic development and welfare of South Africa and be led by academics Dr Paula Meth and Dr Tom Goodfellow. The project will be funded by The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) as part of the urban tranformations programme. This collaborative project is with partners in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Witswatersrand

While prominent global cities receive the vast majority of investment and attention, the majority of urban population growth is taking place in smaller towns and cities in the global south that are undergoing rapid transformation.  Targeting 'Urban economies and livelihoods' and 'Land, infrastructure and sustainable development', the project will seek to understand transformation on the peripheries of African cities.  There will be a particular focus related to infrastructural investments and economic change, aiming to inform urban governance and strategies for urban poverty reduction.

This major new project will understand from the perspective of residents, people’s practices in producing new urban spaces on the peripheries of cities, and the poverty implications of these processes and experiences.  This innovative approach to understanding urban change will build on the growing research expertise on African urban spaces.

Drawing on the expertise of Dr Meth and Dr Goodfellow, the project will examine cases within three African city-regions Gauteng, eThekwini and Addis Ababa. These choices will facilitate comparative analysis spanning both low and middle-income countries in Africa, as well as primary and secondary cities.  All three city-regions display rapid urbanisation, changing patterns of segregation and integration, and governance restructuring and investment. 

Dr Paula Meth said;

"I am so excited to work with academic partners at Wits in Johannesburg, who bring so much expertise to this project. I'm also looking forward to the opportunity to extend myself intellectually beyond my regular focus on residents' experiences of urban processes, to incorporate wider economic and infrastructural concerns. It will be an exciting and challenging 3 years but I'll be working with Tom who will bring youthful energy and intelligence!"

Dr Tom Goodfellow said;

"I'm delighted to be working on this project with Paula and our partners in Johannesburg, as well as researchers in Ethiopia. Too often, research on South Africa tends to stand apart from research on the rest of the continent. This project presents a really exciting opportunity to explore urban change in very different African contexts, and to share learning between countries about how to make sure that transformations of urban infrastructure and housing actually benefit people living on the periphery. I'm also especially excited to learn from Paula's experience of innovative methodologies in urban settlements."

The ESRC is an international leader in the social sciences. It fosters international collaboration with a wide range of international partners and, through joint schemes, enables United Kingdom (UK) social scientists to collaborate on challenging global issues with the very best international researchers from around the world. 

The NRF is an independent government agency that promotes and supports research in all fields of knowledge. It also conducts research in specific national strategic areas and provides access to National Research Facilities. The NRF provides services to the research community especially at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Science Councils with a view to promote high-level human capital development and the production of internationally competitive knowledge. Its aims are to uphold excellence while at the same time transforming the system in all its investments in knowledge, people and infrastructure.