Worldwide, cities are challenged by water excess that can result in widespread floods. In the global South, fast growing cities, many in low lying deltas, are under pressure to accommodate population pressures and to protect people that often settle informally on marginal lands. Moreover, urban drainage infrastructures increasingly have difficulties to cope with the imminent higher rain intensities caused by climate change. Cities need to become resilient for such changes in the hydrologic behaviour of urban catchments to provide stakeholders a secure environment to build up livelihoods and to sustain socio-economic growth.
A wicked problem like this is in fact a system of interrelated problems where there are many players and the problem adapts – it changes and anything you do will change the problem. So what can you do to find a solution? Well, learn about the problem, study and watch the system, appreciate other points of view, become skilled in how to use the system and educate stakeholders. In Spatial Engineering you learn the skills and methods to employ three knowledge areas in finding a solution to wicked problems.
- Technical engineering to be able to model and understand the physical processes
- Spatial information to know where, when and what is happening, and
- Spatial planning and governance to be able to use for interventions as well as predict socio economic drivers.
Case study - Climate resilient cities
In the first year of Spatial Engineering, one of the case studies focusses on urban flood management by analysing the water system of Enschede, a mid-size city in the East of the Netherlands. You built up skills in analysing an urban flood problem taking into consideration the perspectives of stakeholder and the government arrangements in place, and learn to design effective measures (engineering interventions) that make the urban environment more resilient for water excess situations.
You are expected to develop, in a team, a Water Vision for Kampala that sets out a long term strategy for making the city flood resilient in 15-20 years and identify tangible engineering interventions that contribute to this goal. A design will be made for one of the engineering interventions that includes a quantification of the impact on the flood resilience and analyses of the feasibility (economic, social and institutional acceptability).
The case study is organised in an Inception, Analysis, Intervention and design and Advice and Presentation phases during which progress and final results are discussed in different formats (e.g. Q&A sessions, oral presentations, panel discussions, poster presentations). Keynote lectures are offered in the first week to frame the academic context of the various disciplines involved in the urban flood problems. In addition, a selection of choice subjects and non-compulsory tutorials are available to support the skills and knowledge development in the Spatial Engineering knowledge domains.