Experts from the environmental, engineering, and social sciences who are tackling the challenges of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in a rapidly changing global climate.

The big challenges that we are addressing are:

  • Improving rural water supply, focussing on water security and seasonal impacts of supply. Many rural communities in semi-arid areas experience highly seasonal rainfall which is mostly lost as run-off. As the dry season progresses, their water sources dry up and communities have to travel further to collect water which often has poor quality. By retaining water and encouraging aquifer recharge, water sources can remain sustainable throughout the dry season. We are seeking to understand the water balance and quality implications of these systems.
  • Scaling safe urban sanitation, focussing on how to reach citywide inclusive sanitation. The scope of research includes the institutional framework, technologies and business models. In many dense urban environments, there is no sewage infrastructure and the management of non-sewered sanitation is inadequate. We need to answer the wider questions of whether advanced technology for on-site sanitation can be appropriate in these settings and on the roles and responsibilities of all actors; public, private and third sector.

These challenges are exacerbated by Climate change, which has serious implications for the livelihoods of the global poor, particularly affecting their water security and increasing health risks. Communities are already innovating and adapting, but these actions can be poorly coordinated. Urbanisation is changing the way that services need to be delivered. Dense environments mean that at least some centralisation is required, but service providers are not able to keep pace with the rapid rate of urban growth. Interventions can have a wide reaching impact new and emerging health risks, such as the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how essential it is to understand hygiene behaviours to prevent and protect human health during infectious disease outbreaks.

We work with project partners to ensure that our projects are relevant and useful for those working on the ground. We partner with industry, other academic institutions, and local and international NGOs to co-design projects, implement research and deliver results. We strive to ensure all stakeholders are involved in research projects from start to finish. Working with project partners encourages cross-disciplinary learning for all parties involved and promotes diversity within our research and practice.