,

New members of the OWN Leadership Team

The Oxford Water Network is pleased to announce three new members of the Leadership Team: Dr Hussam Hussein, Dr Troy Sternberg, and Saskia Nowicki.

Dr. Hussam Hussein is a Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Research Fellow in Transboundary Resources Management at the Oxford Martin School, member of the Middle East Centre, and Fulford Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College. His expertise is on transboundary water governance and on the political economy of water scarcity, with a geographical focus on the Middle East. He has previously worked at the World Bank, UNICEF, and at the EU Parliament. Hussam joined the Leadership Team of the Oxford Water Network to widen the network towards Early Career Researchers and students looking at water and natural resources from a politics and international relations angle, supporting interdisciplinary interactions and conversations.

Dr Troy Sternberg’s research has focused on extreme climate hazards (drought, dzud), environments (water, steppe vegetation, desertification) and social dynamics (pastoralists, social-environmental interaction, mining and communities). Since 2005 Troy has continued to research in Mongolia; in 2010 northern China and in 2015 Central Asia became additional study sites. His Gobi Framework project develops a model for sustainable infrastructure development to promote inclusive social and economic development and sustainable environments in the context of Chinese investment initiatives in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Troy joins the Leadership Team as the interim Course Director for the Water Science, Policy and Management MSc programme.

Saskia Nowicki is a devotee of interdisciplinary research with a background in environmental science. She works on water related risks and trade-offs, especially those involving water quality and public and environmental health. Her current research focuses on drinking-water safety in rural Kenya, using a systems-based approach to seek insight at multiple levels from the molecular to the institutional. Saskia joined OWN in her MSc (Water Science, Policy and Management) year and has continued to benefit from the network during her DPhil. She joined the leadership team to increase engagement with graduate students and ECRs and is keen to hear your ideas for events or other offerings that the network could support.

Predicting failures for zero handpump downtime

Patrick Thomson received an EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account grant for “Predicting failures for zero handpump downtime”. He will be working with FundiFix and other OWN members Heloise Greeff and Cliff Nyaga to implement and test failure prediction algorithms into operational handpumps.

Embedding this machine learning into the Smart Handpumps will enable FundiFix to repair handpumps before they break. FundiFix has already reduced pumps’ downtimes from weeks to days. Reducing them to zero is expected to improve public health; even a few days without a quality water supply is associated with an increase in diarrhoea morbidity.

This research builds on earlier aspects of the Smart Handpumps project and is complementary to the work REACH and Uptime are doing with FundiFix in Kenya. After completed the technical work and initial testing in 2021, Thomson and others will be running a formal trial through the REACH programme in Kitui in 2022 and incorporating this new data stream into FundiFix’s operations.

Photo credit: Rob Hope