Award candidates

The annual DAIDA foundation Global Urban Thesis Award acknowledges and supports master graduates who, through their work, help improve the urban infrastructure and living conditions for vulnerable groups in the rapidly growing cities of developing economies. Eligible participants are students and recent graduates of university programmes with an urban/environmental research or design component.

The theme for 2020 edition of the awards was Water and Development. Theses addressed topics like water supply, flooding and/or drought-related to urban vulnerable groups in the developing world, while also linking to one or more of the selected SDG targets for this award.

Award winners

Award candidates

Ain Shams University

Maria Valverde

This investigation aims to unpack the diverse water delivery configurations in informal settlements from the peri-urban hillsides. It draws on qualitative fieldwork in three barrios from the JCM settlement to underline their perspectives and experiences for water access, in contexts of climatic variability and uncertain future water availability. Highlighting the realities of under-theorized water supply practices in informal settlements will contribute to comprehensive water policy goals and sustained interventions of the water utilities that guarantee human rights to water, sanitation, and a healthy environment.

Mauricio Gilbonio Bocanegra

The research outlines possible relations between spatial characteristics and Tuberculosis transmission factors on habitable spaces of affected dwellers in two different slums of Lima, Peru. The interlinkage of morphological conditions in different scales with milestones in the informal development processes in both study cases was essential to depict the inadequacy of current epidemic control approaches and urban policies at the local level. An integrated intervention in the built environment is proposed to tackle specific risk settings, reduce transmission, and improve the health of slum dwellers.

Nagla El Khoreiby

This thesis is a quest to reveal the territorial boundaries that are erected between the society in Cairo, in reference to the global discourse. They are socially exercised, and spatially enforced, yielding community isolations and vulnerabilities. The purpose of the study is to decipher the foundation behind their existence, and exhibit potential entry points to negotiate the future of the city and its society’s well-being.

Environmental Planning Department, School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal

Faiza Jamal

The thesis introspects into an invisible link between different components of urban infrastructure affecting everybody and appears to be the responsibility of nobody i.e. Groundwater. This also brings attention towards the unnoticed or invisible aspects of development, limited to land use planning, which affect the hidden ground water resource and are unacknowledged. Theissue is proposed to be resolved with the help of change in land use planning practice mainly using a technology.

Landscape Department, School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal

Sahana D

Chennai was on the global news for reaching its water thresholds. The crisis in Chennai has been a wakeup call for not only the citizens of Chennai, but to the entire world. Urban coastal river systems are subjected the pressure of the growing city as well as climate change. The landscape of a city and the characteristics of the river edges undergo a parallel natural and human-induced phenomena. In such a case, the thin line of caution is often breached causing catastrophic impacts. Such is the case of the River Cooum, which flows through the dense central parts of the city.

Vinita Kumari

Urban waterfront plays significant roles today’s generation, it connects us with nature. Study focuses on developing an integrated landscape development plan by restoring the between pond’s lost connections along with the fragmented green open  spaces present in the city fabric in order to regain its lost cultural and ecological value.

Yamini T

The Pallikarani Marsh is abundant vegetation found as urban wetlands,  acts as a filter for domestic and industrial waste and  this contributes to improving water quality. Urban wetlands supply cities with water and are green spaces for recreation which helps to promote human wellbeing.

Urban and Regional Planning Department, School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal

Shruti Gupta

Assessment of Urban Water Security of Bhopal, with system diagnostic approach, intends to infer the underlying gaps and issues from the systematic analysis of the existing urban water system, based on predefined indicators. This analysis will conclude the level of water security of the study area to highlight the issues and identify room for improvement, which guides the next steps. Based on the inferences from the assessment of the level of urban water security and spatial analysis, recommendations in the form of spatial and non-spatial strategies were provided that can be introduced as planning interventions to achieve the urban water security of the Bhopal city.

Urban Design Department, School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal

Jayashree Chandrsekaran

Unplanned nature of urban growth has led to disturbed ecological balance clogging the timeless flow and efficiency of the water system within our cities. Our inability to accommodate rivers, waterbodies, and other ecological systems within our urban growth patterns has resulted in increasing patterns of floods and droughts. Thesis endeavors to throw light on ecological and socio- spatial transformations that has led to changing dynamics of peri urban areas causing severe deterioration of urban ecology, making Chennai city vulnerable. It intends to take an ecologically sensitive approach towards shaping these emergent urban peripheries, thereby imparting a resilient tomorrow. An inclusive transformation that aligns with urban growth, communities and their livelihood and other urban systems with the ecological imperative is the focus of the study. It aims to improve ecology, imageability, social aspects and livelihood of communities through multi-leveled strategies interwoven to bring ecology and city within a common realm.

Aniruddha Madav

A thesis questioning strong anthropocentrism within complex urban fabric, with a bias towards urban nature, highlighting age old question “Can cities coexist with nature?”

The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

Shreya Bharatkumar Modi

The project reveals that for directing and managing change in landscape such that human actions are in tune with the natural processes, there is a need of ecological planning and comprehensive pro-active planning. By applying McHargian overlay method and Ecological Sciences and Planning literature, the project demonstrates a process of assessment and prioritization of Ecologically Significant Areas for Protection and Conservation, in the Upper Watershed of Vishwamitri River. By proposing appropriate planning strategies and tools for these Ecologically Significant Areas, from the perspective of experts of planning and allied field, the project guides planning practice to move towards development ((LFLCLU change) leading to lesser degradation of inherit natural and cultural systems. Based on this, recommendations are provided to planners/planning body and government body/policy makers.

United Nations University - University of Bonn: Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security Master Programme

Dominic Sett

Based on the observed mismatch of rainwater harvesting (DRWH) potential for adaptation to urban water scarcity and its limited implementation, the thesis analyzes influencing factors for DRWH adoption by households in water scarce Cape Town. Results derived through literature, expert interviews and a household survey demonstrate the central role of social-psychological factors for households’ adoption. The interlinkage of various factors was captured in an inductively enhanced framework, which provides an overview of how households’ adoption decision is influenced. This framework and its central results can serve to further reduce barriers to increased adoption and thereby promote DRWH as effective adaptation measure, positioning it in local, national and global climate-sensitive urban planning.

Simon Wagner

For his Master’s thesis, Simon completed fieldwork in Lagos, Nigeria, on factors that enhance collective adaptation to floods through a comparative case study of two communities. He chose to apply the theoretical lens of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) combined with semi-structured interviews and focus groups on capturing the underlying factors that led to the emergence of collective action in adaptation to floods. The study pointed out the importance of a variety of factors and grouped them into agent- (e.g. ownership, economic endowments, leadership) and interaction-related factors (e.g. organization, rules), while the historical growth and development of a community related to both of those groups. The thesis provides evidence of the existence of dynamic local level initiatives that remain to be recognized, integrated, and supported in more inclusive governance approaches.

IHS, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Ishita Vedamuthu

As a part of her graduate thesis, Ishita formulated a Gynocentric (Woman-focused) Social Vulnerability Framework for Extreme Water- Events for Urban Resettled Populations and Resettlement Sites in the context of Kannagi Nagar, Chennai. By bridging literature on gender, climate change and resettlement she demonstrated that the built environment and the lack of employment opportunities, in conjunction with the burden of domestic responsibilities, made resettled women more vulnerable to drought and water shortages. The systems approach adopted can provide an effective basis for gender-equitable design, adaptation strategies, actions, and policies that can be replicated to comparable cases of resettlement and is adaptable to other climatic disasters. 

Jeffy John Q Tomarong

Sustainable urbanization requires disaster risk reduction strategies to respond to the looming threat of climate change-induced flooding. Integration of water-sensitive urban design can help prepare cities in developing countries in the global south to become resilient against these future challenges. Knowing the risk areas is critical towards an evidence- and research-based policy and decision-making process to create adaptive cities that shall help foster safe, inclusive, and sustainable development.

Ahmed Tarek AlAhwal

Titled, “The effect of landuse change in urban riverfront eco-restoration projects on land drawn capabilities”. The thesis explores how marginalized communities bear the load of river restoration, and how differentiated citizenship strengthens inequality, through discourses of encroachment, land rights, and environmental restoration.

Jamia Millia Islamia

Syed Suhaib Naqshbandi

The Sustainable Development Goal for reducing water related natural disasters requires integrated and heuristic approaches considering traditional practices related to water management, use of scientific advancements and  emphasis on human –water linkages.Traditional Adaptive landscape strategies of; linking the different water bodies by digging waterways locally called as (Khuls) and reserving land parcels to act as wetland during high water yield, has evolved as the indigenous mechanism of flood control across Valley of Kashmir, India.The vernacular tradition of adapting water in the landscape has also resulted in developing intricate human relationship with water which allowed Srinagar capital city of Kashmir to emerge as distinct culture and economically prosperous civilization in the past. The manifestation of this past wisdom, in the shape numerous waterways  (Khuls) are being converted into roads for increased mobility needs today.In this study,events of change in natural hydrology and their latter impacts were correlated by preparing chronological time line,also spatiotemporal changes in water bodies and wetlands were assessed using Topographic maps from 1900-2011.Major events of disturbance in natural hydrology were found, the conversion of historical water stream (Markhul) into vehicular road in 1975 was observed to have laid serious ecological, social and economic impacts. The area of wetlands in Srinagar alone has significantly reduced from 54897acres in 1900 to 9000 acres in 2020, the spatial extent of freshwater bodies has reduced from 9970acres in 1900 to 6246acresin 2020.It is concluded that by restoring historical water streams (khuls) and fostering human-water relationship resilience towards floods and water woes can be achieved, the vision developed during this project can help develop framework to achieve goals of SDG 13: Climate action.

Tazteen Alam

Regenerating Balance Between the Water Systems & Human Settlements with a Case of Bagjola Khal in Kolkata, West Bengal India, is a thesis dealing with urban water bodies and its anthropogenic context. It is a study of the hydrological processes in the Bay of Bengal and the influence of human settlements on the natural topography. The research provides a backbone to the degenerating condition of the study area. It is an initiative to help understand the local and regional needs and interventions required for a resilient future.

KU Leuven

Zeba Amir

Himalayan communities are impacted by increasing ecological disruptions, faltering subsistence economies and a combination of physical and mental migration away from the traditional lifestyle. They face enormous challenges of sustainable development. The thesis, situated in part of Uttarakhand (India), studied the issue of depopulation and resulting landscape transformations. In order to facilitate sustainable growth it focused on re-invigorating the abandoned mountain landscapes as sites for eco-centric social and economic interplays, generated by the needs of the population and the innate landscape qualities. The thesis emphasized on strengthening the integrity of forest and water resources to build resilient environmental frameworks for the transformation of the mountainous settlements.

Mahmoud Alsalti

Moments of modernization have always been producing and reproducing lands in Amman, Killing one of its irreplaceable resources. A Scattered Productive Metropolis hybridizes different typologies of unbuilt space to build an urban agroecological system that raises up the quality of its saturated urban condition and reshape the productive urban morphology of the city. What is perceived as rural and urban, built or unbuilt, productive and consumptive will be distorted. New forms of coexistence and hybrid spaces integrated within ecological principles will revise this contrast, reintroduce the marginalized public space as a productive one and find an alternative way to urbanize the territory

Jui Yi Hung

Taichung, located on the west side of the Dadu plateau, is representative of most Taiwanesemetropolitan regions where massive real estate development and government proposals are reconfiguring rural farmlands in search higher profits. The study develops a vision that enables region’s intrinsic ecology to be accentuated, while mitigating pollution generated from the industrial area and adapting to the predicted consequences of climate change, particularly flooding. Abandoned farmlands provide a strategic opportunity and a new rural and urban relationship. Robust forest and wetland systems are re-constructed and new typologies are developed to respond to new ecologies.

University of Mumbai

Noopur Sejpal

Resilient landscape planning strategies and water management techniques are often neglected in the process of town planning which cause damage to life and property during events of extreme rainfall and flooding. By the integration of hydrological studies and understanding people’s relationships with the lakes of Old Panvel, the thesis aims to demonstrate methods in which these principals can be included and be inclusive. The thesis makes a case for the inclusion of these through policies and detailed designs for the lakes in Old Panvel, Maharashtra, India.

Swanand Mahashabde

The thesis on “Reimagining a lost Riverscape: A case of Poisar River in Mumbai” takes landscape ecology as a theoretical premise and concepts of river restoration and river naturalisation so as to develop a landscape-based strategic plan for transforming Poisar riverscape in Mumbai into a water sensitive and ecologically thriving territory

Uttara Nalawade

The Thesis ‘A Landscape approach to Nallas in Navi Mumbai ‘ addresses the neglected natural stream channels in a rapidly urbanising city, to protect and conserve the stream ecosystems of the region. These natural water edge landscapes are a valuable for the urban setting and have a great potential to become ‘multi functional infrastructure’, bringing liveability, ecology and economy for the city. The Khairane nalla is taken as a case to intervene with design as a pilot project and similar design approach can assist projects across several other nallas in the region. ‘Intervening at different scales’, ‘bringing people to the neglected water edge’ and designing by ‘A landscape approach’ are adopted for the design intervention along the stream corridor.

University of Twente

Yunya Gao

Slums are physical presentation of urban inequality. Slum maps can help improve life quality of slum dwellers as a tool for multiple stakeholders to make better decisions. This research aims to assess the spatial transferability of deep learning techniques-fully convolutional networks (FCNs) for slum mapping. By this way, I hope to develop an FCNs model with high spatial transferability to help map undiscovered slums in data sparse areas.  

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