Smith School Water Programme Manager joins WEF Expert Network

It’s been a big month for OWN member Dr Johanna Koehler who has just received her first grant as a principle investigator (PI) and who has been invited to join the World Economic Forum Expert Network.

For this network, she will contribute to the thematic areas of Water, Sustainable Development and Africa. The World Economic Forum’s Expert Network brings together close to 5,500 leading experts from academia, business, government, international organizations, civil society, the arts, and the media committed to improving the state of the world by helping to shape the global agenda. The Expert Network is designed to promote interdisciplinary and innovative thinking about the future, challenge conventional wisdom, and develop new ideas related to regional and global agendas.

Johanna’s first grant as PI together with Co-I Dr Stefania Innocenti (SSEE) is from GCRF Research England for fifteen months to uncover people’s preferences concerning how their water is delivered. For decades rural waterpoints in Africa have been managed by heterogenous communities but not always with great results: 25% of sub-Saharan African handpumps are non-functional. New options for communities to have better access to water delivery, such as FundiFix, are emerging. How do communities make decisions when faced with the choice of signing up for reliable water services? Who are the leaders people are likely to follow when making such decisions? Using a novel interdisciplinary approach, Johanna’s study will combine anthropological and experimental methods to examine whether people follow others’ decisions depending on their leadership status and current water management arrangements. This research is part of helping policymakers understand how to achieve universal and equitable water service provision by 2030 by better comprehending how local behavioural and institutional norms and community structures which might hinder uptake of new water service models are understudied.


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