Economics & Development

Examines the role of institutional regulation, mobile technologies and behavioural change in water access and allocation. Research projects investigate economic instruments to manage water scarcity, water supply and public health. Researchers analyse how governance regimes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to promote or inhibit improved human development outcomes.

Some current projects

Mobile/water for development: mobile payments

Mobile water payments offer a secure, low-cost and inclusive mechanism to improve the sustainability of water supply services. This project investigates the impacts and implications of mobile water payments across urban Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Mobile/water for development: smart handpumps

This project works with the Government of Zambia and UNICEF to examine how a new technology developed by Oxford University that automatically texts information on handpump use can improve reliable access to water services for the rural poor. It aims to understand how the availability of objective and reliable information on handpump performance can accelerate and maintain improved water services.

Mobile/water for development: smart rivers

This project is designing a Smart River System in the Burguret River sub-catchment, Kenya, to automatically measure abstraction on daily time-steps to determine current water use patterns, to enable new allocation systems and to protect environmental flow allocations.

Transforming water scarcity through trading

This project uses a Market Simulator approach to model the impacts of water trading in the UK and study the economic benefits, environmental consequences, opportunities for novel water resource development, and opportunities to obtain payments for ecosystem benefits.

Market-based water reform in a transactions costs world

This project applies transaction costs economics to evaluate the effectiveness of market-based water policy experiments in Australia and the Western US with a focus at the intersection of water rights reforms, water markets, and river basin governance institutions.

Water security and sustainable growth

Oxford University co-chairs an Expert Task Force as part of a Global Water Partnership and OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth. The multidisciplinary team of international experts will provide new evidence on the linkages between economic growth and water security. The Task Force will develop, model and economically assess a set of water security scenarios at the global and basin level, with the aim to illustrate and compare different strategies and pathways for achieving water security.


  • Johanna Koehler
  • Dr Katrina Charles
  • Kevin Wheeler
  • Yin Yang
  • Dr Chris Decker
  • Julián López-Murcia
  • Katy Hansen
  • Tim Foster
  • Professor David Thomas
  • Tamara Etmannski
  • Alex Money
  • Aaron Krolikowski
  • Haiyan Yu
  • Professor David Bradley
  • Michael J Rouse CBE
  • Shauna Monkman
  • Dr Laura Rival
  • Professor Andrew Wilson
  • Dr Dustin Garrick
  • Patrick Thomson
  • Dr Sabina Alkire
  • Dr Robert Hope
  • Maria Mancilla-Garcia
  • Dr David Johnstone
  • Professor David Grey
  • Dr Christine McCulloch
  • Dr Anna Russell
  • Dr Harry Verhoeven
  • Huijuan Wu