Recognising the need to understand risk and to build resilience globally, Habitat for Humanity has been working with the University of Cambridge since March 2022 on the implementation of a project to build community resilience against flood hazards in urban areas of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A key pre-requisite to the work has been understanding exactly which parts of the city are most at risk when the waters rise. Habitat for Humanity has worked with Dr Ronita Bardhan, Associate Professor of Sustainable Built Environment at the University’s Department of Architecture. She describes herself as someone who “believes that data-driven intelligence of built environments can effectively address sustainability goals and policies”. This belief has driven her to share her expertise outside the University, providing guidance to NGOs and government agencies.

Dr Bardhan turned to Cambridge Enterprise for support for her project with Habitat for Humanity.

Dr Bardhan leads the Sustainable Design Group at the University and is working on building resilience into Addis Ababa’s urban fabric. Working for Habitat for Humanity, Dr Bardhan developed a flood risk map showing the hazardous areas of the city to protect communities as part of the ‘Urban Resilience Building Assistance Network (URBAN) to help mitigate the risks. Her work uses data-driven methods that bring architectural engineering, AI and machine learning together with social sciences to provide built-environment solutions for health in resource-constrained societies. Now that Habitat for Humanity is in possession of a multi-dimensional participatory flood risk hotspot map, it can propose targeted solutions for those areas most at risk. The project has already benefited over 1,500 individuals through improved drainage, and 4,000 households have been trained in hygiene and sanitation measures. The next phase of work will build on these successes and propose targeted solutions to mitigate risks in the areas highlighted by Dr Bardhan.