View of the Timbau neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro

Credit: Timo Bartholl

Geography research secures half a million in British Academy funding

Loughborough’s Department of Geography has secured over £500k in funding for two research projects from the British Academy Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

Dr Antonis Vradis, Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, and Professor Katherine Gough have both been awarded funding from the GCRF’s recently launched Cities and Infrastructure Programme. Loughborough is the only institution to receive more than one funding award.

Dr Vradis’ project will research grassroots nutritional infrastructures in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Durban, South Africa over 16 months.

He will work alongside Dr Oonagh Markey of Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Richard Pithouse (Rhodes, South Africa) and two post-doctoral research assistants - Dr Timo Bartholl, a geographer and long-term resident of the Maré favela in Rio de Janeiro and Dr Christos Filippidis, an urban securitisation researcher.

Dr Vradis said: “Despite and against the rise of increasingly and astonishingly corrupt governments in Brazil, people carry on living and building their lives―creating their own food, education, transport and housing networks.

“Our collective work will focus on such initiatives, hoping they can inspire other grassroots groups, just as our team has been inspired by them.”

The project led by Professor Gough will investigate the impact of flooding and extreme heat on urban infrastructure, focusing on water, electricity and health services, and the resultant consequences for the livelihoods of poor residents in the cities of Accra and Tamale, Ghana.

Professor Gough explained: “This project will work closely with local residents, service providers and policymakers to co-produce adaptive strategies to extreme weather events, which as recent events in the Caribbean have highlighted, are occurring with increasing frequency and severity in many cities in the global South.”

The interdisciplinary team includes Professor Rob Wilby, also of Loughborough’s Department of Geography, Professor Paula Griffiths of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and Dr Sam Kayaga of the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering.

They will work alongside four Ghanaian colleagues: Professor Paul W.K. Yankson, Professor Sam Codjoe and Dr Ebenezer Amankwaa all of the University of Ghana, and Dr Raymond Kasei of the University of Development Studies, Tamale.