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About RISE

Our vision is to transform human and environmental health in urban informal settlements through water-sensitive revitalisation.

The challenge

More than one billion people live in urban informal settlements globally, where polluted water and inadequate sanitation are leading causes of preventable diseases. Poor health is linked to environmental exposure to pathogens, pollutants and disease vectors in water, food, air and soil.

Conventional approaches to water and sanitation management cannot meet the demands of these communities battling the effects of climate change and rapid urbanisation. And with the acceleration of global urbanisation, it is expected that up to three billion people could be living in urban informal settlements by 2050.

A new approach is needed, one that addresses these problems from the perspective of overall environmental and human health.

Our approach

Working with communities, governments, local leaders and partner institutions, RISE aims to demonstrate that nature-based solutions – such as wetlands and bio-filtration gardens – can deliver sustainable, cost-effective health and environmental improvements for those living in informal settlements.

RISE is conducting a randomised control trial (RCT) involving informal settlements in Suva, Fiji and Makassar, Indonesia. In the first phase of the trial, the first group of settlements in each country are undergoing a water and sanitation upgrade. The impacts of the upgrades on the health of the environment and the health of the communities will be monitored, and compared against the other settlements in each country.

In the second phase of the trial, the other group of settlements in each country will be upgraded.

Our objectives

RISE aims to enable these communities to:

  • Recycle their own wastewater (both blackwater and greywater)
  • Harvest rainwater
  • Create green space for water cleansing and food cultivation
  • Restore natural waterways to encourage diversity
  • Reduce vulnerability to flooding and climate change

We anticipate multiple benefits:

  • Improve community health
  • Fewer infections
  • Better intestinal health among children
  • Increased food production
  • Decreased gender inequalities by providing domestic sanitation facilities and reliable water supplies

The bigger impact

RISE has the vast potential to improve the lives of the one billion people currently living in urban informal settlements worldwide.

With the first-ever rigorous evidence of effectiveness in hand, our long-term ambition is to expand our approach across the Asia-Pacific and the world, giving millions the opportunity to live healthier and safer lives.

Who we are

We are a consortium of communities, researchers, governments, non-profit and industry partners working together to improve the health of people and the planet.


Our consortium

RISE is led by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, and brings expertise from across six Monash faculties: Art, Design and Architecture; Science; Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Engineering; Business and Economics; and Law.

The Wellcome Trust provides core funding for the research components of RISE. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade funds the infrastructure intervention in Fiji, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade funds the infrastructure intervention in Indonesia.

RISE is locally anchored in Makassar, Indonesia and Suva, Fiji. In Indonesia, the research is led by Hasanuddin University, and the intervention is led by the City of Makassar, with support from the Ministry of National Planning (BAPPENAS), the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, and the Indonesia Australia Partnership for Infrastructure.

In Fiji, the RISE intervention is led by the Ministry of Housing and Community Development and the Water Authority of Fiji, and the research is led by Fiji National University, with support from the University of the South Pacific. Live & Learn Environmental Education implements the RISE Fiji program across both the intervention and research.

Our research draws on expertise from around the world. Great minds come together from Stanford University, Emory University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, to implement our randomised controlled trial (RCT) and create scientific impact in human, environmental and ecological health.

Our non-profit and industry partners are helping turn technical knowledge and best practice into action. South East Water and Melbourne Water have pioneered water-sensitive, nature-based approaches and are supporting translating this technology into Fiji and Indonesia.

Our United Nations and global NGO partners share our vision for healthier people and a healthier planet. Development partners UN-Habitat, United Nations University, WaterAid and Oxfam are helping RISE advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our two demonstration sites in Fiji and Indonesia successfully showcase how water-sensitive infrastructure functions in informal settlements. These demonstration projects are living labs that were co-designed with the communities, and made possible by the Asian Development Bank, the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and the UK and Swiss Governments, together with expertise from the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities.