Global Hubs to Address Inequity in Informal Urban Settlements

January 25, 2019

NAIROBI, JANUARY 25, 2019- More than half the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a figure that is expected to rise to 90% by 2050. While cities present opportunities for social and economic development, they also demonstrate the world’s most obvious income, health and wellbeing disparities. One in three urban dwellers today live in precarious, marginalized areas, including informal settlements in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Increased pressure on public services by the burgeoning population will mean that many of those living on the fringes, such as the urban poor, will find it harder and more expensive to access them.

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is part of a new Global Research Hub to help improve the health of people living in informal settlements in low and middle-income countries. The UKRI GCRF Accountability for Informal Urban Equity Hub (ARISE) is one of 12 global research hubs recently funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), as part of broader efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

ARISE brings together ten partners from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines who will work collaboratively to address critical development hurdles including ill-health, inequity, and insecurity in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, and India. The Hub, led by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), will bring residents of informal settlement together with people leading government bodies and other relevant organizations to develop ways to address their priorities and assess what impact these have.

“Slum residents are often invisible in official statistics and lost in urban averages,” said Dr. Caroline Kabaria, a co-investigator on ARISE and a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at APHRC. “ARISE will generate disaggregated information on conditions in slum communities to help focus government attention and resources.”

“We expect that strategies developed from ARISE will inform policy and action in improving health outcomes among the urban poor not only in Kenya but across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” added Prof. Blessing Mberu, ARISE project lead at APHRC and APHRC Senior Research Scientist.

To maximize impact beyond the four countries, the partnerships that formed the ARISE Hub will also be extended to other countries in the African and Asian regions, in part through a flexible “challenge” fund to respond to emerging opportunities.

Other partners in the ARISE consortium include Liverpool VCT Health (Kenya); Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), and College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, also in Sierra Leone; the George Institute and Slum and Shack Dwellers’ International, both in India; the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University in Bangladesh; the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, along with input from Pamoja Communications in the UK.

This Hub is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is a crucial component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information about UKRI and the GCRF Hubs, visit:

Media inquiries: Michelle Mbuthia,, +254 724994796