India, 2017

Social and gender dimensions of urban river restoration: lessons from Asian Cities

Country and location: Chennai, India

Dates: December 6-17, 2017

Application deadline: October 16, 2017

Local partners: Madras Institute for Development Studies (MIDS) and the IHS Alumni Association of India (IHSAAI)

Coordinators: Maartje van Eerd, Banashree Banerjee and Charmae Pyl Wissink-Nercua

Target audience:

This course is intended for NFP alumni from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries from the Southern Asian region. Alumni are allowed to invite colleagues, if well motivated and to a limited extent. This course is aimed at alumni whose current practice is related to the theme of the course. Female participation is strongly encouraged. The participants will be chosen based on their relevant working environment which implies a strong research and policy orientation (e.g. academics, researchers and practitioners at NGOs, policy makers). The quality and relevance of their motivation is also an important criteria in the selection. Motivation statement should include how they intend to apply the learnings from the course.


The main objective of the course is:
To identify different gender inclusive ways of urban river restoration The sub-objectives are:

  • To understand the governance of urban rivers and its impact on vulnerable communities, informal residents, and women
  • To examine urban river restoration projects and to identify their actual/potential impacts from urban-ecological and social perspectives
  • To understand the perspectives from city developers and affected populations on river restoration projects
  • To understand the success factors of community driven projects and its importance for river restoration projects
  • To apply lessons learned to policy and research through action plan

Course Content:

This 2-week course is divided into five modules.

Module 1. Governance of Urban Rivers

This module will include a set of talks, readings, exchanges and visits for understand how the governance of urban rivers is closely interlocked with socio-economic processes, particularly involving vulnerable communities, informal residents, and women. 

Module 2. Urban river restoration projects: rationales, priorities, approaches and implications.

We will critically examine a set of urban river restoration projects implemented in different cities, to identify their actual/potential impacts from urban-ecological and social perspectives.  What are the interventions taken there for water management, and what are the consequences for people living there? What is the social impact, how do these projects deal with the social implications.


  • The Mekong river delta in Vietnam,
  • The Pasig River in Manila, Philippines
  • Sabarmati river front development in Ahmedabad, India
  • The Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Chennai, India.

Module 3. Policy and practice in Chennai
This module presents the view from city developers and affected populations and comparisons with other cities. We will also look at Indian policies for relocation and disaster management.  It will include interactions with officials, amongst others from the Chennai City Rivers Restoration Trust and the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board to understand the state’s perspectives and priorities.

Module 4. What needs to change and how?
This module will present some interesting cases of ‘community driven near to site resettlement’ from the Philippines, relocation with people’s participation in Mumbai, and negotiated resettlement in the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project. What were the factors that contributed to the success? Then we will zoom into the Chennai example, it will discuss options with local groups in Chennai like CAG and ActionAid.

Module 5. Action planning for improved river restoration projects
This module (run throughout the course) will lead to a concrete action plan for researchers, practitioners and policy makers. 

Expected Output:

The course will directly contribute to a better understanding through improved awareness, and knowledge and understanding of the social and gender dimensions of river restoration projects. The main direct output of the course will be a documented report of the proceedings and findings of the course, including all the presentations and course materials distributed by the different lecturers. The course materials will be made available after finalization. Those participants interested will be invited to participate in developing a paper on the social and gender dimensions of river restoration projects. An additional output of the course will be the strengthening of the alumni networks of those countries involved.

A final very important output will be an action plan which we will tailor according to the organizational and professional needs of our participants. We expect researchers, practitioners and policy makers as course participants, all working in the field of housing, environment and planning, with a specific interest or experience in urban river restoration projects/programmes/policy development. Working in 3 groups, participants will prepare action plans to take forward learnings from the course into their respective domains of research, practice or policy. This way the course will directly impact the quality of work of participants and their organizations.

Language: All background and course materials will be delivered in English.

Admission requirements: A filled-up online application form and a motivation statement expressing how the course will contribute to one’s professional development, and when applicable the link of  past and/or current professional experience and academic research in one or more of the main themes of the course.