PhD: How does adaptation to climate change for urban WaSH systems affect lived experiences of water security? via FindAPhD

University of East Anglia

Norwich, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project


For many people, climate change in the 2020s is being experienced through changes to global and local water cycles and increased pressure on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) systems. The water sector is therefore key to climate change adaptation. However, adaptation policies often focus on infrastructural measures to improve water supply and rarely address the complex socio-economic reasons for insecure WaSH access. While access alone does not ensure resilience to climate change, those without it will struggle to cope.

As the global urban population rises, understanding how adaptations to urban WaSH are being designed, implemented, and scaled-up in the 2020s is required, through real time evidence on whether and how well these are helping people cope with climate change. Particular attention is needed to what types of WaSH system changes are currently being envisaged and implemented as adaptation, how well they respond to climate change impacts felt by users from different socio-economic strata, and their implications, for example in terms of participation and sustainable resourcing.

Research methodology

Mixed methodology approach drawing on contemporary secondary data and generating real time primary data on climate impacts and adaptation responses. Secondary data will be drawn from academic and institutional sources focusing on (inter)national climate data, policies and strategies relevant to the 2020s. Primary data will employ household surveys, stakeholder interviews/focus groups, photovoice, and ethnographic techniques in a case study country over 12 months, and comparative analysis of current cross-cultural datasets in collaboration with the Global Ethnohydrology Study at Arizona State University. The project will produce participatory audio-visual and artistic materials that portray local experiences and expectations of adaptation to climate change through WaSH to complement and enrich policy narratives.  


Policy analysis and evidence synthesis, qualitative and quantitative field data collection, comparative analysis of cross-cultural ethnographic data to generate scalable findings, communication of data in non-traditional formats. Application to the US Summer Institute for Cross-Cultural Anthropological Research will be encouraged.

Person specification

Essential: undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geography, anthropology, development studies or close fields.

Desirable: experience in water issues, research and/or development work; second language(s).

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website

The start date is 1 October 2022.

Funding Notes

Successful candidates will be awarded a 4-year studentship covering tuition fees, maintenance stipend (£15,609 per year in 2021/22), funds to support the research project and associated training. Additional funds are not available to assist with relocation or visa costs.
We anticipate that up to two awards will be made to international students for October 2022 entry.
Part-time studentship awards are subject to approval by the Leverhulme Trust.
This project has been selected for the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to online interview, to be held late February/early March 2022.


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