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Over half the world's population live in cities, which face the challenge of providing essential infrastructure that meets the needs of growing populations. To investigate this challenge, we team up with Dr Mary Lawhon, a human geographer who studies urbanisation and sewerage systems in lower income countries. We explore:

  • • The Modern infrastructure ideal | A decades old idea that all inhabitants of a city should be served by large, integrated infrastructure systems, managed by experts and made sustainable through big technology and strong government.
  • • Barriers to achieving this ideal in lower income countries, particularly where systems were developed under colonialism and not built to serve the needs of local populations.
  • Modest infrastructure: an alternative approach | Small scale sustainable systems, where waste is processed locally, for example through bio-toilets and compositing systems within homes and gardens. These can take a variety of forms to address different environmental challenges.


Written and developed by: Mary Lawhon, Ellie Barker, Rob Parker, Josh Carron


Reducing sewer corrosion through integrated urban water management by The Conversation is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Industrial Outdoor Water Pipe by Videvo is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Sustainability free icon by Freepik downloaded from

Faecal Sludge Management by Introduction to Faecal Sludge Management is licensed under CC BY 3.0