A green circle with white circles and lines connecting them to form a network within it. The word GREAT is written next to the green circle.

Project Details

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Project Dates: project ended

Project Lead at Lancaster:


GREAT (Gridding Equitable Futures in Areas of Transition) is a three-year research project aimed at generating real change in two informal off-grid settlements located in Cali (Colombia) and Havana (Cuba).

GREAT’s research is conducted through a partnership between Lancaster university, UCL, Universidad del Valle and Universidad Technologica de la Habana Hose Antonio Echeverria.

The project will transform our understanding of the relationship between urban infrastructure and the dynamics of growth and change of informal settlements in areas of transitions and provide unique learning points to help address important barriers residents of informal settlements face to improve their livelihoods, in Colombia and Cuba, and across Latin America and the Caribbean.

GREAT seeks to contribute to ‘gridding’ equitable urban futures through a series of publiclabs combining policy and socio-technical entrepreneurship in the two cities.

Through the use of PublicLabs – a programme of work combining research (mapping and ethnography), regular workshops and other activities with communities and relevant organisations in the two study areas – the project aims to answer two key questions:

  • In what ways does being on- and off-grid provide an opportunity to rethink the relationship between people and urban infrastructure in areas of transition?
  • To what extent do current off-grid policies and initiatives in Cali and Havana contribute to the disenfranchisement or empowerment of residents in informal settlements?

GREAT is funded by Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

For more information and updates please visit the project website at:

To get involved, or, discuss options to contribute to this exciting project, whether you are in the UK, Colombia, Cuba, or elsewhere, get in touch via Twitter @GREAT_offgrid, or, send an email to