Economics & Development

Examines the role of institutions, mobile technologies, markets and behavioural change in access to water and sanitation. Research projects investigate approaches to managing water scarcity, water supply and public health, including the use of economic instruments. Researchers analyse how governance regimes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to promote or inhibit improved human development outcomes.

Some current projects

3ksan: Catalysing self-sustaining sanitation chains in informal settlements

The 3K-SAN project is developing and evaluating strategies for catalysing self-sustaining sanitation chains in low-income informal settlements in Kisumu (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda) and Kigali (Rwanda). Identification of commonalities and differences between these areas is being used to develop broader best-practice guidelines for comparable interventions in similar settlements throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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.

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 are developing, modellling and economically assessing 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.


  • Dr Michael Gilmont
  • Julian Kirchherr
  • Thanti Octavianti
  • Jacob Katuva
  • Johanna Koehler
  • Dr Katrina Charles
  • Kevin Wheeler
  • Yin Yang
  • Dr Chris Decker
  • Julián López-Murcia
  • Katy Hansen
  • Tim Foster
  • Professor David Thomas
  • Dr Alex Money
  • Haiyan Yu
  • Professor David Bradley
  • Michael J Rouse CBE
  • Shauna Monkman
  • Dr Laura Rival
  • Professor Andrew Wilson
  • Patrick Thomson
  • Dr Robert Hope
  • Dr David Johnstone
  • Professor David Grey
  • Dr Christine McCulloch
  • Dr Anna Russell
  • Dr Harry Verhoeven
  • Huijuan Wu