Support the WSPM Anniversary Fund

As part of recent celebrations of 15 years of WSPM, an anniversary fund was launched.

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How finance and institutions are shaping global water thinking

Dr Sonia Hoque, Dr Johanna Koehler, and Cliff Nyaga discuss water affordability and how finance is shaping thinking on water in this REACH blogpost.

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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 ( or Joanne Craven ( 


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.

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WSPM Alum wins second place in 2018 BDS competition

Shuchi Vora (WSPM 2017-18) won second prize in the 2018 British Dam Society dissertation competition. The goal of the competition is to highlight and recognize current dams research by undergraduate and taught post-graduate students studying in the UK. Shuchi’s MSc dissertation investigated the Mara River Basin in Kenya—specifically examining a risk-based framework for water management.

Shuchi shares some of her thoughts on her work:

“My dissertation attempted to ascertain the relative impacts of climate change, natural variability of the hydrological regime, and anthropogenic interventions on the management of allocated environmental flows in the River Mara. I used decision scaling in a WEAP model for the Mara river catchment within Kenya. While my research was based on secondary data, I visited the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya to understand the complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic pressures as well as policy interventions on the ecohydrology of the river. I conducted my research with the help of WWF-Kenya, WWF-UK and IHE-Delft.

“From making these networks and continuing to remain in touch with them, to learning the critical importance of hydrological and climate uncertainties in decision-making, my research expanded my horizons in more ways than one. I now work for The Nature Conservancy in India, where there exist similar data scarcities, uncertainties and trade-offs in decision-making: and I fully appreciate these nuances after my Oxford experience.”


A ‘Grand Bargain’ on the Colorado River

Recently, Dr. Kevin Wheeler gave a highly provocative talk on ways to address the looming renegotiation of the Colorado, and confront future disputes over managing water during times of severe drought between 7 states in the southwest United States and between the United States and Mexico. At the 40th Annual Getches-Wilson Center Summer Conference, Kevin proposed limiting the consumption of the Upper Basin States to a negotiated level well below their aspirational 7.5 million acre feet (maf)/year current apportionment, while concurrently eliminating their potential risk of curtailment when deliveries to downstream states fail to reach 75 maf over 10 years, as would be required under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. By removing the risk of a such a ‘compact call’, opportunities arise to provide more reliable water deliveries to users across the basin, re-design the operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead to improve environmental flows in the iconic Grand Canyon, and allow the states avoid a very uncertain and prolonged battle in the United States Supreme Court.

With almost twenty years of experience working on transboundary river issues, Kevin has been intimately involved in the disputes along the Colorado River, including the historical negotiations between the United States and Mexico, and recently he focuses on cooperation among the countries of the Eastern Nile River. Kevin completed his DPhil at Oxford and is an Oxford Martin Fellow on a new Transboundary Resource Management Project at the Oxford Martin School. He is associated with the Environmental Change Institute in the University of Oxford and advises for the Futures of the Colorado River Project at Utah State University.


Water efficiency in the public sector: The role of social norms

Dr. Bettina Lange and Dr. Kevin Grecksch from the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies make a case for the significance of social norms in crafting water efficiency campaigns for public sector organizations.

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Global Water Partnership CEO on effective leadership

For those who couldn’t make the 7 May talk on leadership, participant Simon Damkjaer wrote a blog highlighting Dr Monika Weber-Fahr’s advice.

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