NEWAVE PhD (ESR 13): Integrating patterns of urban water governance in Southeast Asia

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Amsterdam, , NL

Host institution: Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Nederlands
Principal supervisor: Prof. Margreet Zwarteveen
Co-supervisor: Prof. Dustin E. Garrick
Non-academic co-supervisor: Ms Nila Ardhianie
Application deadline: 15 March 2020
Starting date: Between 1 May and 1 September 2020
Duration: 3 years


Safe, sustainable water provision are out of reach for many of the world’s poorest residents. Problems are acute in cities, where fast-growing populations place stress on inadequate water infrastructures. Improvements in access tend to focus on increasing connections to the water network. Yet, networked service comes with its own set of problems: scarce supply, poor service delivery, high costs, high maintenance demands, and/or an inability to extend the network due to illegal land tenure status. Whether out of need or by choice, large numbers of urban dwellers in Indonesia, and the global South more broadly, rely on a complex and dynamic mix of grid-based and off-grid sources. Infrastructural solutions are therefore best understood as hybrid, differing from uniform grid-based provision in cities of the global North. These systems reflect a state of infrastructural coexistence: a mode of urban development that emerges in parallel and in conjunction with formal networked infrastructure. Infrastructural coexistence is the norm in developing contexts, not the exception.

Practitioners need to better understand the drivers that lead urban dwellers to pursue off-grid solutions, the outcomes and trade-offs of infrastructural coexistence, and the governance arrangements that support these models as a solution for urban residents. Under what conditions could infrastructural coexistence promote secure, sustainable, and equity-driven water and sanitation security?

This ESR position will:

The aim of this research project is to generate empirically grounded analysis of how networked (‘on-grid’) and independent (‘off-grid’) water infrastructure can co-exist in ways that promote secure, sustainable, and equity-driven solutions for residents of Indonesian cities. The researcher will focus on the city of Semarang, in Central Java, Indonesia. The PhD research will be designed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Identify and characterize the diverse water infrastructural configurations and their functioning
  2. Evaluate the impacts (distributional, cultural, environmental) of coexistent development and understand how heterogeneous outcomes are locally produced and contested
  3. Develop decision-support tools for policy that promote more just and sustainable outcomes for particular forms of infrastructural coexistence.

Expected results:

  1. A systematic and comprehensive empirical understanding of infrastructural coexistence in water in the city of Semarang, Indonesia
  2. Contribution to development of policy models enabling sustainable and equitable solutions in Indonesian cities.
  3. Knowledge generated on the conditions under which infrastructural co-existence develops, and the institutional and governance arrangements that make these configurations work as solutions
  4. Documentation of new knowledge in a diversity of formats and media for use by practitioners, governments, civil society, and researchers.
About Universiteit van Amsterdam

The UvA is one of Europe’s largest research universities. It offers facilities and infrastructures which provide the most congenial setting to conduct high-quality research and has a formidable capacity for hosting, training and mentoring researchers. Its research performance is at the top of the international league in many fields. The UvA belongs to the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and maintains intensive contact with universities around the world. The research will be embedded in the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR),that unites all social science research of the UvA. The research programme focuses on the functioning of contemporary societies and their interrelationships from historical, comparative and empirical perspectives.

We seek
  • Above-average MSc and/or Research MSc (preferred) in Human Geography, Urban Planning, Development Studies, or related fields
  • Familiarity and willingness to aquire Indonesian language skills
  • A commitment to academic excellence with a track record of high impact research
  • Proven skills in executing empirical research in challenging contexts
  • Capacity to work independently and as part of a team
  • Examples of high-quality written work, such as a journal paper or equivalent
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills to work with multiple stakeholders

Prof. Margreet Zwarteveen
Professor of Water Governance at IHE-Delft and the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Prof. Dustin Garrick 
Associate professor of environmental management
University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Ms Nila Ardhianie
Director or research
AMRTA Institute for Water Literacy, Indonesia





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