Open Reblock project to map out way to expand access to services in slum communities, making them more resilient to effects of climate change, natural disasters
In our rapidly urbanizing world, more than a billion people living in slums lack access to essential services, such as water and sanitation, and to emergency response — a situation made even more perilous as climate change is expected to drive more frequent extreme-weather events in the coming decades.
Scientists from Arizona State University and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), together with Slum Dwellers InternationalSlum Dwellers International is a network of community-based organizations of the urban poor in 33 countries and hundreds of cities and towns worldwide. (SDI), have been selected from hundreds of ideas to tackle an innovation challenge put forth by the Amplify Program: How might urban slum communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change?
For many urban slums, the key to resilience may lie in an integrated development approach called “reblocking.” This is a process by which slum communities physically rearrange themselves to create new streets and public spaces that provide access to every residence and workplace, facilitating the universal introduction of modern services and providing each household with an official address.
“Creating a street network that can facilitate movement within a neighborhood involves much more than simply tearing down structures that are in the way and bulldozing a road. There are social, economic, physical and even cultural considerations that must be integrated into the design of an effective street system,” said José Lobo, a professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability, who co-leads the Slums, Neighborhoods and Human Development Cities project with professor Luís Bettencourt at SFI.
“It is essential to develop a platform that includes both technology and community involvement, so that all of these considerations inform the design of a street network which is itself an essential ingredient for neighborhood development.”