Resilience and vulnerability at the urban Nexus of food, water, energy and the environment (ResNexus)

The provisioning of food, water and energy services in urban areas involves infrastructures and resource flows which are heavily dependent on each other and on the natural environment. This interdependence (synergies and trade-offs) is increasingly conceptualized as the urban Nexus. Much policy and academic focus concerning the urban Nexus has been on urban resilience-building from a system-level perspective to address infrastructure deficits, environmental degradation and climate change impacts. However, one of the biggest challenges in developing cities continues to be the multi-faceted vulnerabilities the urban poor face at the urban Nexus of water, energy, food and the environment.

In this project we will use Social Practice Theory to investigate how the social and ecological trade-offs associated with the urban Nexus interact with existing relations of power in maintaining and producing urban vulnerabilities at the local level in two informal settlements in Kampala, Uganda. For this, we will map the vulnerabilities that emanate from the water, energy, food and environment Nexus by looking at the practices of provisioning for food, energy and water by households, suppliers, intermediaries and city government officials. We will then use this analysis to derive insights for improving the governance of service provision at the urban Nexus by convening vision-building workshops. Here, diverse stakeholders will examine the maps of vulnerabilities emerging at the urban Nexus and discuss the options for addressing these vulnerabilities and pathways to resilience so as to strengthen the connections between everyday practices at the Nexus and the policy-led interventions that seek to govern them.    

The Kampala project is funded by the NWO. It is part of a transnational three case-city collaborative project, including the University of Sao Paolo funded by FAPESP looking at the city of Gaurulhos, and the University of Sussex Policy Research Unit funded by the ESRC looking at the city of Sofia in Bulgaria.

The research is conducted by ENP postdoc researcher Patience Mguni.