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The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Blog: Including migrant perspectives in urban planning

Photo: Bobulix/Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Jun 2018

“This is a first test of the idea that new migrants are critical in planning and building new cities. If new populations are invisible, the cities will not work for them, nor they for the shared vision of the city.” 

Neil Adger, Principal Investigator

A new project, enabled by the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation, on Safe and sustainable cities: human security, migration, and well-being launched in December 2017. The project seeks to incorporate migrant perspectives and sources of innovation into urban planning to build safer and more sustainable cities. The research involves surveying migrant populations and using images through a photo-elicitation approach, allowing migrants and city planners to explore their own meanings of safe and sustainable cities. The research seeks to build empathy between planners and new migrant populations, towards shared visions of the future. 

The project is working with agencies and stakeholders in Chittagong (now renamed Chattogram) and brings together researchers from the University of Exeter and the University of Dhaka. Find out more about the project launch in Chattogram, along with a blog on the reflections from the field of a team researcher

The project will build empathy through action research: migrants and city planners sharing their perspectives and images of a safe and sustainable city. At the same time, interviews with 450 individuals in Chattogram have focussed on their life trajectories, and their perceptions of place, identity and social exclusion within their new home. This data is being used to analyse how migrant populations can be integrated in urban planning and other policies, so that human security, wellbeing and other basic needs of these new populations are integrated in the overall city development. 

Read more about pilot testing the survey questionnaire and some of these early findings, the survey process, and a migrant’s story in Dhaka on the Safe and Sustainable Cities project website.  

The research seeks to enable migrant populations to integrate their perspectives into future cities and for urban planners to take account of their growing populations in planning for sustainability. The future of migrants in cities is an emerging theme of ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research. Other funded projects include Supporting the social mobility of trapped populations in very poor urban areas, part of Migrants on the Margins, a Royal Geographical Society Field Research Programme.


The Impact Initiative blog posts are either from individual researchers or from major research programmes. Some of the blog posts are original source and are written by researchers and experts connected to the two research programmes jointly funded by ESRC and FCDO: the Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research and the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme. Other blog posts are imported from related websites and programmes. 

The views expressed in these blogs reflect the opinions of each individual and may not represent the Institute of Development Studies, the University of Cambridge, ESRC or FCDO.


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