Oxford joins ‘NEWAVE’ of water governance

The European Union has awarded a major grant of four million Euros for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) to the NEWAVE ‘Next Water Governance’ to the University of Oxford and partners as part of a consortium led by the University of Amsterdam. This four-year project begins Fall 2019. One of its key objectives is researching water governance priorities and preparing actionable insights for future directions of water governance. Dr Dustin Garrick will lead a work package on innovative patterns of water governance—exploring how markets, communities and governments are addressing a wide range of water challenges globally.  The consortium will train 15 water governance DPhil students, two of which will be housed at Oxford: one on informal water markets (supervised by Associate Professor Garrick) and one on rural water finance (supervised by Prof. Rob Hope).  Both DPhil positions listed below require team players who enjoy working with a cohort of international researchers and practitioners.  Deadline is 15 November 2019. Further details about the application are here.

Governing Informal Markets in Eastern Africa (supervisor:  Associate Professor Dustin Garrick)  

Informal water markets have proliferated in response to rapid urbanisation and increasing competition for freshwater. Despite their prevalence, informal markets are virtually uncharted, particularly their governance and the hidden patterns of cooperation, conflict and competition.  Myths dominate in the absence of evidence, fuelling perceptions that informal markets prey on the poor and lead inexorably towards inequality and unsustainable outcomes. This study will examine the institutions and governance underpinning informal water markets in eastern Africa using a mixed-methods approach involving systematic review, institutional and network analysis, and impact evaluation. The ideal DPhil student will have an interest in collective action theory, institutional analysis and development, and water governance and will demonstrate an ability to learn and apply complementary methods in environmental social sciences (including qualitative, quantitative and geospatial techniques). 

Rural Water Finance in Africa (supervisor: Professor Rob Hope)  

Performance-based models for rural water services are emerging in Africa in response to unsatisfactory progress in delivering reliable and safe water to rural people. Pioneer and social enterprises are making progress, but at the margin there are still 300 million rural Africans without even basic, drinking water. Sustainable finance and institutional design are key elements to blending government, donor and consumer funds for universal delivery of safe drinking water to communities, schools, and clinics. A critical gap is understanding ways to create value to influence the payment behaviours of rural consumers and facilities in order to attract non-traditional funding. This study will examine policy and governance issues informing how rural consumers pay for water across service delivery models, payment methods, and political spaces using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The ideal DPhil student will have a passion for field-work working with rural people, social enterprises, and local government; fluency in French and English; and a strong quantitative background to model and evaluate interventions at multiple scales. Interests and expertise in behavioural economics, econometrics, institutional economics and water governance would be welcome.  


Games Impact Understanding of Water and Food

By Roger Sykes 

In the UK, we enjoy a year-round supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from here and abroad. However, much of it comes from water-stressed regions, from East Anglia to South Africa. This exposes the supply to water-related and other risks. For example, what would happen to water resources if we all started hitting our 5-a-day targets? What would happen to our food supply if exporting countries were hit by drought? 

The Global Food Security project “Increasing resilience to water-related risks in the UK fresh fruit and vegetable system” aims to answer some of these questions. The project team used stakeholder interviews and workshops to collect individual accounts of how parts of the UK fresh fruit and veg system respond to water risk. This knowledge was then developed into a game to be played by stakeholders to help us understand risk and resilience – throughout the whole system. 

“Fruit and Veg. vs the Future” allows players to put together fruit and veg systems and pit them against different future scenarios. As water shocks hit the systems, we see whether the actors in the system can mitigate the shock or whether they pass it on to others through the supply chain. This highlights who the winners and losers are and how we can increase the resilience of the overall supply chain. Several workshops have been held using the game in the UK and South Africa with others planned for the future. 

If you are interested in using the game, please contact Tim Hess (t.hess@cranfield.ac.uk) or Joanne Craven (joanne@joannecraven.co.uk). 


Ethiopia’s future — from hydropower to coffee — is tied to water

Dr Ellen Dyer and Meron Teferi Taye of the University of Oxford discuss how Ethiopia’s future challenges with climate change and agriculture relate to its water issues in this article.


Recent PhD graduate shares insights into groundwater and poverty in southwest Kenya

To mark the successful completion of his UPGro PhD at Oxford University, Jacob gives some highlights from his research on groundwater and poverty in Kwale County, in South West Kenya.

Read more here.