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Urbanisation in Asia: the peri-urban interface and sustainability of south Asian cities

water collection point

This project looked at water conflicts in areas on the edge of Delhi, to explore technological and environmental sustainability challenges in peri-urban areas. The project ran from 2006-2011.

Areas at the edge of cities are constantly changing and expanding. No longer solely seen in spatial terms, the peri-urban interface is increasingly recognised in terms of dynamic flows of commodities, capital, natural resources, people and pollution. Although often seen as a transition zone, peri-urban areas are expanding rather than diminishing.

A planning minefield

Peri-urban areas are framed in different ways by policy makers, academics, the powerful and powerless. There is a lack of understanding about the peri-urban environment, the diverse livelihoods of people experiencing different degrees of urbanization, and the perceptions and priorities of peri-urban villagers. As a result, planning decisions are almost inevitably flawed.

With no clear jurisdiction, ‘organised irresponsibility’ has emerged allowing powerful actors to benefit from the lack of regulation and constant impermanence.

Meanwhile the very marginalised and disenfranchised groups lack access to basic health, water and sanitation services. Often their rights to land, health and water are stripped away. Moreover, their livelihoods are frequently declared ‘illegal’ by the state and the judiciary.

Peri-urban sustainability website

A web portal to literature, video and news from many different sources on peri-urban sustainability, established and run by the STEPS Centre.

Peri-urban sustainability website

Water and justice: peri-urban pathways in Delhi

A film illustrating the STEPS pathways approach through the voices of people with different experiences of water in peri-urban Delhi.

STEPS members involved in this project

STEPS partners on this project


The following presentations were given at the STEPS Centre Symposium, September 2010.

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