Understanding how irrigation water infrastructure works for sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems

Lead Supervisor: Prof Frances Cleaver, Geography
Co-supervisor: Dr Vanessa Speight, Civil and Structural Engineering; Dr Jeltsje Kemerink-Seyoum, Senior Lecturer in Water Governance, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands; Prof Adelaide Munodawafa, Chairperson of Department of Land and Water Resource Management, Midlands  State University, Zimbabwe.

Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018

Project Description
Smallholder irrigation holds considerable promise for enhancing food security and reducing rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. However there are inefficiencies and inequities in the ways in which irrigation systems work, resulting in limited access and depletion of ecosystem functioning.

Recently, policy has focussed on building institutions such as irrigators associations, and on establishing water rights regimes. Conversely, there has been a relative neglect of infrastructure and its effects. Engineering approaches to irrigation focus on designing optimal solutions which often work differently than intended. Social scientists highlight power and the unequal social relations which shape irrigation systems. Relatively few studies take a combined socio-technical approach, a gap which this research aims to fill.

The researcher will combine methods to produce extended case studies of smallholder irrigation systems, preferably building on existing research carried out in Zimbabwe. Methods are likely to include:

A document review will enable comparison between the intended design and actual infrastructural configurations. A household survey will identify the winners and losers from infrastructure access. Participatory methods (mapping, facilitated dialogue) will be used to identify possibilities for future adaptations.

The successful candidate will have strong social science skills and a solid grounding in water engineering processes and concepts. Regional knowledge and fieldwork experience would be advantageous. There is considerable scope for the candidate to develop this project according to their interests.

Subject areas: Geography, Development studies, Civil and structural engineering

Funding notes
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.  Applications should be received and complete by Monday 26th March 2018.

What to include in the application

Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. You should also outline any relevant experience and interests that you have in sustainability issues.

Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the department of this project’s lead supervisor. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. The starting date of the PhD will be the start of the next academic year – 1 Oct 2018. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.