Alice Sverdlik

Fellowship Recipient
Country Expertise: Kenya
Fellowship Year(s): 2014
Project/Theme Title: Infrastructure in Nairobi's Informal Settlements
Abstracts: Although studies recently uncovered the dynamism and complexity of rapidly-urbanizing African nations, infrastructure in African informal settlements (‘slums’) is usually overlooked. To help illuminate these tenuous networks, I will examine the use, governance, and improvement of ‘everyday’ infrastructure in Nairobi’s slums. Using mixed methods and a gender-sensitive analysis of water, sanitation, electricity, and transit, I will ask how these 4 networks are governed in Nairobi’s slums and how the lack of integrated provision affects residents’ daily lives. Thanks to careful site-selection of slums with varying levels of infrastructure, my innovative research design may help reveal the roles of integrated provision for Africa’s urban poor. Additionally, I will compare 3 ongoing initiatives aiming to provide integrated networks and support responsive governance in Nairobi. My two-pronged PhD thus explores current infrastructure conditions as a critique of inequitable, fragmented approaches, while also asking how to implement more holistic initiatives in African informal settlements.