NEWAVE PhD 14: Integrity, infrastructure and water sub-sector reform: comparing large scale irrigation and urban water supply in India and Indonesia

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

London, , GB

Host institution: School of Oriental and African Studies, United Kingdom
Principal supervisor: Prof. Peter Mollinga
Co-supervisor: Prof. François Molle
Non-academic co-supervisors: Dr. Diana Suhardiman, Dr. Barbara Schreiner
Application deadline: 24 May 2020
Expected starting date: before 15 October 2020
Duration: 3 years


The issue of corruption or rent-seeking, often referred to as ‘integrity’ in policy discourse, is a prominent silence in water governance reform debates and scholarship. A key insight that the (limited) literature on corruption in India’s irrigation sector has produced is that it is systemic: it is institutionalised and links the political and administrative spheres, while connecting these spheres with the private (contracting) sector. Recent research on Indonesia has suggested that international development funding for water sector reform has been an important element of the reproduction of the system of political and administrative corruption through the infrastructure investment funds it provides. This project systematically explores these insights to produce deepened understanding of the factors and conditions shaping corruption practices in the water sector, to contribute to better informed debate and policy making on combating corruption. This project addresses the following research question: what are the conditions that shape corruption practices in the water sector in India and Indonesia, and what is the role of international funding support for infrastructure development in this?

This PhD position will:

  1. Analyse how national political system and practices (e.g. election system) predetermine the creation, preservation, and reproduction of political and administrative corruption in the water sector
  2. Analyse how the presence/absence of international development funding (agencies); shape water governance (reform) through its (their) role in political and administrative corruption.
  3. Analyse how governance arrangements in the large scale irrigation and urban water supply sub-sectors differentially shape political and administrative corruption
  4. Analyse how the characteristics of water infrastructure shape political and administrative corruption
  5. Derive short-term and long-term policy recommendations for combating corruption from these findings.

Expected results:

  1. Innovative analysis of corruption practices in the water sector in India and Indonesia
  2. A new framework for systematic comparative analysis of corruption in the water sector
  3. Original contribution to national and global policy discussion on measures and strategies for combating corruption.
About School of Oriental and African Studies

SOAS is the only higher education institution in the UK devoted to the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It has a very diverse international student body (about 5000 students on campus with over 50% from outside the UK from over 130 countries), and around 4000 students around the world taking SOAS’ distance learning programme. The School has over 300 academic staff, with 25 in the Department of Development Studies. Development Studies is a highly interdisciplinary department with research clusters working on the Political Ecology of Development; Neoliberalism, Globalisation and States; Violence, Peace and Development; Migration, Mobility and Development; Labour, Social Movements and Development; Agrarian Change. SOAS’ Centre for Water and Development was established by the department of Development Studies, with membership from the school of Law, Anthropology and Financial and Management Studies departments and the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy.

We seek
  • Above-average MSc (or equivalent degree) in a relevant social science or interdisciplinary environmental science field, preferably with a focus of water
  • 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
  • Hindi (or Marathi or Kannada) and/or Bahasa Indonesia fluency would be an asset for the researcher
Eligibility criteria*
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – have obtained the MSc degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree
  • Mobility rule: you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation you are applying for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

*Please make sure you comply with the eligibility criteria before applying. You need to be able to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment. You can read the full description of eligibility criteria in the Information Note for ITN Fellows.


Prof. Peter Mollinga
Professor of Development Studies
Department of Development Studies, SOAS University, United Kingdom

Prof. François Molle
Directeur de Recherche Institute of Research for the Development (IRD), France

Dr. Diana Suhardiman
Research Group Leader – Governance and Gender
International Water Management Institute (IWRM), Sri Lanka

Dr. Barbara Schreiner
Executive Director
Water Integrity Network (WIN), Germany





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development