Dr. Tara Saharan


With an interdisciplinary background, I have a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Amsterdam, a MSc in International Cooperation and Urban Development from TU Darmstadt and UPMF Grenoble along with Masters in Planning from IIT Roorkee and bachelor in Architecture from MAHE, Manipal. I have participated in several international research projects based in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In addition, I have worked as an architect for a period of 2 years in a Special Economic Zone project located in India.


My research interest focuses on a range of thematic issues related to urban planning, decision support processes, governance, inequality, women rights organizations and comparative analysis using predominantly qualitative methods. Presently, I am working in H2020 project called Pavitra Ganga that focuses on issues of planning through decision support processes for sustainable wastewater management in India. Prior to this ongoing project, I have worked for a year and a half on NWO research that sought to understand how the aid-chains shaped ability of NGOs to undertake advocacy work in Kenya. My doctoral thesis explored relational understanding of informal settlements across multiple geographic and institutional scales using a comparative methodology in the context of Chennai in India and Durban in South Africa. Before this, I worked as a Research Assistant in an international research program that focused on sustainable development through urban governance processes across cities located in India, South Africa, Brazil and Peru. This research journey has made me develop an interest to explore questions within an interdisciplinary context using a critical lens of analysis.

  • Saharan, T., Pfeffer, K., Baud, I., & Scott, D. (2019). Comparing governance and bargaining of livelihoods in informal settlements in Chennai and eThekwini. Cities https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.02.017
  • Shaw, A., & Saharan, T. (2019). Urban development-induced displacement and quality of life in Kolkata. Environment and Urbanization, 31(2), 597-614. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0956247818816891
  • Saharan, T., Pfeffer, K., & Baud, I. (2018). Shifting approaches to slums in Chennai: Political coalitions, policy discourses and practices. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 39(3), 454-471. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjtg.12244
  • Saharan, T. (2018). ‘Slum’ and the City: Exploring relations of informal settlements comparatively in Chennai, India and Durban, South Africa. PhD Thesis, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Link: http://hdl.handle.net/11245.1/899ed5ab-e703-46f9-a829-202f912313a2
  • Saharan, T. (2018, December 10) Shame, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence in Kenya [Blog post]. 
  • Saharan, T., Pfeffer, K., & Baud, I. (2018). Urban livelihoods in slums of Chennai: Developing a relational understanding. European Journal of Development Research, 30(2), 276-296. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-017-0095-2
  • Saharan, T. (2015). Accessing public spaces. City, 19(2-3), 396-399. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2015.1015268
  • Saharan, T. (2013). Understanding the Needs of Urban Poor: Case Study of VP Singh Camp, A Slum Settlement in Delhi, India. In Coelho, L X P, Marques, L M S, Murguiá, R O (Eds.), Mundus Urbano: (re) thinking Urban Development, pp 123-132. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

I am currently working in H2020 project called Pavitra Ganga. The central objective of the project is to unlock the environmental and economic potential of municipal wastewater treatment and reuse solutions for urban and peri-urban areas in India by jointly drawing on technological innovations, decision support processes and learning networks. Empirically, the project aims to contribute towards water quality improvement and rejuvenation of the River Ganges with New Delhi and Kanpur as two case study areas. For further information, please see - https://pavitra-ganga.eu/en

Tara Saharan



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