Skip to main content
HRD Evolution of and urban hydro-hazardscape – Bath Spa University

The evolution of an urban hydro-hazardscape: the Ravi river floodplain in Lahore, Pakistan

Wednesday 19 January, 2022 – Wednesday 19 January, 2022
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2021-22.

Urban floodplain communities face multiple water-related hazards in addition to flooding, which include various types of water-related disease, displacement, poverty, climate impacts, and social conflict. This presentation seeks to link Daanish Mustafa’s conception of hydro-hazardscapes with Bradley and Bartram’s expanded typology of water-related disease. It builds upon Kolsky’s treatment of scale in the field of water-related health hazards. This conceptual framework is tested and refined through a case study of the Ravi River floodplain in metropolitan Lahore, Pakistan. This reach of the river has flooded from 17th century Mughal times to the present. It suffered a drastic decline in discharge following the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. Diminished flows are increasing the concentration of untreated municipal and industrial wastes and associated disease burdens. Informal settlements have periodically arisen and sought to thrive in these conditions despite the array of water-related hazards, and they are threatened by large-scale urban real estate development proposals as well. The final section of the paper uses the modified framework to explore ethical dimensions of planning alternatives in these hydro-hazardscapes.

About the speaker

James L. Wescoat, Jr. is the Aga Khan Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Geography at MIT. His research concentrates on water systems in South Asia and the US from the site to river basin scales. For much of his career, Professor Wescoat has focused on small-scale historical waterworks of Mughal gardens and cities in India and Pakistan. At the larger scale, he has conducted water policy research in the Colorado, Indus, Ganges, and Great Lakes basins. His recent research focuses on intermediate-scale regional water systems in Punjab, Pakistan, and Maharashtra, India.

Edit section | Website feedback to