Informal Cities

By 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population will be based in city contexts. However, as formalised cities grow in the developing world, so do informal, self-constructed settlements that operate outside of the common legal and regulatory frameworks of cities, but meet the same functions.

The Informal Cities programme, led by Professor Kazem Rahimi and Dr Samuel Cai at The George Institute, contributes expertise in epidemiology and health to interdisciplinary research funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund and supported by the Oxford Martin School. Through their work with University of Oxford colleagues specialising in anthropology, geography and mathematics, the team aims to better understand how ‘informal’ citizens are both actors in, and recipients of, a changing and increasingly urbanised world.

The team are applying geospatial mapping and machine learning techniques to a range of open-source data to characterise informal settlements in terms of environmental exposures, socioeconomic status, housing and health care infrastructure. Building on these rich datasets, they seek to address how such informal settlements impact the health and health care of citizens at city, regional, and country levels.