This project entitled “Strengthening Research and Educational Competences of HEIs for Gender sensitive Urban (InfoRmal Settlement) Transformation” (GIRT) specifically looks at women’s daily lived experiences in informal settlement and the impact that the Covid19 pandemic is having on them in Ethiopia and Mozambique. In the rapidly growing cities of these two countries, informal settlements cater for the housing needs of a substantial proportion of the urban population, especially the low-income sections of society. While overcrowding, lack of security of tenure and basic infrastructure, inadequate building stock and unhygienic living conditions render inhabiting of informal settlements generally difficult for most residents, this is especially true for women who often carry the majority of household related duties under these challenging living conditions. They are also especially affected by paramount deficiencies in basic sanitation, because public taps, toilets and bathing facilities frequently represent unsafe locations for them as well as their children. Difficulties in this respect have been further exacerbated by the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic, as proper hygiene is at the core of any containment strategy, yet extremely difficult to maintain under the highlighted circumstances in most informal settlements. These densely populated residential areas also do not allow for the required social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus and were therefore found to be hot spots of outbreaks while inhabitants at the same time are most vulnerable as they hardly can afford the necessary medical treatment etc. However, as of now there is few data on Covid 19’s exact impact on female residents in informal settlement of Ethiopia and Mozambique. Given the overall scarcity in research on informal settlements in both countries – and the prevailing contestations over these settlements in the public realm – it is little surprising that few attempts have been made so far to specifically investigate the “female face of urban informality” through women’s daily lived experiences of navigating constraints and challenges in informal housing. The GIRT project partners from Ethiopia, Mozambique and Austria have previously worked together on informality and conducted essential research that enables them to now proceed to exploring viable solutions for pressing daily challenges with a focus on women’s needs. To this end, GRIT seeks to employ a set of tested transdisciplinary (Td) methods to engage with local stakeholders in 4 cities (3 in Ethiopia and 1 in Mozambique) in a strive to identify scalable approaches for improvements of living conditions in selected settlements. Thereby, GRIT will build capacity inessential Td methodologies in the participating universities who will thus be empowered to function as catalysts of change. In close partnership with local stakeholders, GIRT project partners will co-produce and share new, locally specific knowledge on real world problems and learn how to apply it to improve informal residents’ living conditions on the ground.


Duration 01/05/2022 - 30/04/2026
Funding Bund (Ministerien)

Department for Building and Environment

Principle investigator for the project (University for Continuing Education Krems) Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Tania Berger
Project members Dr. Elisabeth Huber
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