Oxford University co-chairs global Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth

Professors Jim Hall and David Grey are co-chairs of the Expert Task Force of the Global Water Partnership and OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth, launched at the World Water Week in Stockholm on 2 September 2013.

The Expert Task Force is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of leading economists, water managers and scientists who will provide new evidence on the linkages between economic growth and water security. The group is coordinated by Dr. Claudia Sadoff of the GWP Technical Committee, co-chaired by Professors Hall and Grey, and includes Drs Simon Dadson and Dustin Garrick.

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. This new knowledge will enable countries to better understand and manage water risks, and ensure that efforts to promote economic growth and development are not jeopardised by these risks.

At the official launch of the project at World Water Week, Dr. Claudia Sadoff explained that “the structure of the task force will be to work from risk based perspective: we will document economic costs and risks associated with water, and then we will look at trade-offs and benefits.”

The Global Dialogue project also includes a high-level panel co-chaired by Angel Gurría, Secretary General of OECD, and  Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, President of Liberia and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Water and Sanitation.

Another component of the project will be a country level consultation process led by GWP that will investigate country perceptions and priorities regarding water security.

The Global Dialogue will result in a milestone report on ‘Water Security and Economic Growth’ to be presented at the World Water Forum in South Korea in 2015. The project will draw attention to the importance of water within the post-2015 Development Framework and will provide input to the United Nation’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

Related links

The GWP-OECD Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth

Fully Baked! The completion of a successful Africa Water Stewardship Scholarship

Cliff Nyaga is a beneficiary of The Coca-Cola Company funded Africa Water Stewardship Scholarship, which sponsors his place on the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management, class of 2012/2013. He reflects on his year at Oxford and reports findings from his dissertation research on customer payment behaviours in urban African water utilities.

Finally my Masters at Oxford has come to an end. Looking back, it has been a speedy race against time and it is hard to believe it is over! Having gained access to a unique dataset of the Dar es Salaam city piped water utility in June this year, I immediately embarked on a three-month period of dissertation research.

While my intention was clear – to make strides towards the finishing line while fighting off tempting distractions from an approaching British summer – I lost this battle somewhere along the way. Barbeques, river swims, berry picking, garden parties and picnics somehow found their way into my diary. Striking a fair balance between thesis research and outdoor festivities was sometimes challenging. Nonetheless I got my head down and submitted my dissertation by the set deadline. Amidst the celebrations, the summer period is almost over which makes this the opportune time for me to pack and run back to Kenya before the cold autumn breeze sets in.

My dissertation research investigated the predictors of customer payment behaviours in piped water utilities in urban Africa. This is an important area of study because the sustainability of piped water services depends upon how well utilities can recover costs through revenue collection from water users.

It is perhaps surprising that factors that determine payment behaviours in piped African utilities are largely misunderstood and so often are assumed. Most utilities lack information on their service such as customers’ demographics, preferences and perceptions of service quality which in turn leads to poor policy decisions and poor implementation. However, understanding and promoting water stewardship in Africa fundamentally depends on access to good data to evaluate what works, why and for whom. Major investments without this data may have no lasting impact.

The Dar es Salaam water utility dataset used in my analysis suggests that it is possible to obtain fairly low-cost evidence to inform policy and investment decisions in African utilities. Ultimately, investing in good information could lead to improved piped water access for the unserved urban poor and water insecure consumers.

Reflecting on the last year, my time in Oxford can be summed up in one word – awesome! Each day has brought a new learning experience and for this I am greatly indebted to The Coca-Cola Company Africa Water Stewardship Scholarship. Indeed, this Scholarship has facilitated my transformation from the water novice I was a year ago to the expert I am today.

The Masters course in Water Science, Policy and Management has empowered me with knowledge and skills to engage with the water access challenges facing Africa head on. Furthermore, I have made resourceful professional and social networks while in Oxford comprising of lead organisations, researchers and students working in the water profession all over the world. This will be a great asset as I start my career and will help me achieve my goal of improving water access in Africa.

This is the third and final post in a three-part blog series. Read Cliff’s first and second blogs.