Dr Harry Verhoeven finalist of the Global Water Forum’s Emerging Scholars Award

Dr Harry Verhoeven was selected as one of ten finalists in the Global Water Forum’s Emerging Scholars Award, judged from around 800 entries on the themes of ‘water security’, ‘water economics’, and ‘transboundary water governance’.  The Award called for early-career scholars and practitioners working in water-related fields to publish an article that presents their research, project, or opinion to a global audience. The articles were judged by water researchers from the Australian National University.

Harry’s article ‘Big is beautiful: Megadams, African water security, and China’s role in the new global political economy’ looks at the role of dams in development and energy production at a global scale. It argues that the increasing reliance on megadams to fuel development and secure energy, led by China, fails to take into account their ecological impacts. He concludes that while large dams may be alluring to Chinese investors and African regimes, “their long-term contribution to water security in the climate change era remains deeply questionable”.

You can read Harry’s article, as well as the other finalists’ entries on the Global Water Forum’s website.

Harry Verhoeven is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics and International Relations, teaches African Politics, and is the Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network.


Jim Hall’s work on coastal flooding shortlisted for Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize

Professor Jim Hall, Director of the Environment Change Institute (ECI) and Science Lead for the Water Security Network, contributed to work on the Tyndall Centre’s Regional Coastal Simulator which has been shortlisted for the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize 2012.

This work, which quantified the role of sediments released from cliff erosion in protecting neighbouring low-lying land from flooding, is part of the iCOASST project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, in which ECI is a partner.

The Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize 2012 called for research on the theme of ‘Natural World’, relating to either natural hazards or climate change. The prize winners will be announced on 29 November 2012.

Smart Handpumps feature on BBC Click

Oxford University’s Smart Handpumps project, part of the mobile/water for development (mm4d) initiative, aims to improve rural water security by automatically monitoring handpump performance which trigger maintenance responses. The handpump technology uses data transmitters which fit inside handpumps and send text messages to a central office if the devices break down. The research initiative is a collaboration between the School of Geography and the Environment, and the Department for Engineering Science, led by Dr Rob Hope and Patrick Thomson in partnership with Dr Gari Clifford.

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Feature publication: How will 1°C, 2°C, 3°C, and 4°C global temperature rise affect rainfall in Africa?

Climate change mitigation debates focus on how many degrees of global temperature rise should be avoided. 2 °C has emerged as a benchmark for danger, with severe impacts on water security, food security and human well-being anticipated. However, there is limited research on the implications of this change for Africa. It is also little understand how change will occur as global temperature increases – will it be incremental or will there be sudden and nonlinear shifts?

A new study by Rachel James and Professor Richard Washington at Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment addresses these important questions and examines the changes in rainfall in Africa with 1 °C, 2 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C of global warming. Models project risks associated with 2 °C and beyond, with increasing changes in rainfall projected as global temperature increases. A closer look at regional variations shows Southern Africa, the Guinea Coast and the west of the Sahel getting wetter, while East Africa becomes drier. These changes could have severe implications for society.


James, R. and Washington, R. (2012) Changes in African temperature and precipitation associated with degrees of global warming. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0581-7

Inter-departmental collaboration wins grant to develop and implement a coupled hydrological and climate model

An EPSRC Bridging the Gap grant has be won by a collaboration between the Environmental Change Institute, the Oxford e-Research Centre and the Met Office to pilot techniques for distributed computation and uncertainty analysis of rainfall and runoff models. The project leverages the expertise of both the Water Security Network and the Oxford Climate Research Network, bringing together researchers in water engineering, ECT networks and distributed systems, and hydrology and climate science. The pilot project will run from October 2012 until March 2013.