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Conference Programme

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Sessions & Speakers

REACH successes, challenges and prospects

Since 2015, REACH has been generating new evidence and tools to support policy and practice and guide investments to unlock growth and help people move out of poverty. In this session, the REACH programme directors will present key findings from REACH on successes and barriers for improving water security for the poor in Kenya, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and more widely in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The session will set the stage by introducing key thematics areas for the conference.

  • ​​​Prof. Katrina Charles, University of Oxford

  • Prof. Rob Hope, University of Oxford

14:15 - 15:30

Lecture Theatre


High level panel | Water security, risk and poverty

  • Mr Abul Kalam Azad, Chief Coordinator for SDG Affairs, Prime Minister's Office, Government of Bangladesh

  • H.E. Dr Abraha Adugna Ashenafi, State Minister, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy,
    Government of Ethiopia

  • Hon. Simon Chelugui, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Kenya;

  • Dr Ana Gren, Senior Policy Specialist for Water Resources Management and Sanitation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

  • Chair: Dr Irene Guijt, Head of Research, Oxfam GB


Lecture Theatre


  • Prof. Katrina Charles, University of Oxford

  • Prof. Md. Abed Hossain, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (view presentation)

  • Dr Seifu Kebede, University of Addis Ababa

  • Prof. Mashfiqus Salehin, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

  • Discussants: Prof. Susan Elliott, University of Waterloo, Dara Johnston, UNICEF Bangladesh

  • Chair: Dr Sara Marks, EAWAG

Many of the world’s poor experience unsafe water on a regular basis due to contamination from industrial and natural sources, faecal matter, and increasing salinity. Poor water quality can have significant impacts on people’s health and livelihoods and can thus limit pathways out of poverty. In this session, we explore the water quality risks that are impacting the development trajectories in Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

Plenary | Addressing water quality risks for the poor 


Lecture Theatre



Break-out 1 | Integrated approaches to rural water security

Rural development initiatives in water often focus on either WASH or water resources management. Integrating these approaches can have significant benefits for water security in the intervention areas and downstream. This session will present results from REACH research on aspects of water security in rural communities and explore opportunities to develop a more integrated approach to rural development interventions from a water security perspective.

  • Dr Nancy Balfour, Centre for Humanitarian Change

  • Dr Salome Bukachi, University of Nairobi

  • Dr Sarah Dickin, Stockholm Environment Institute

  • John Gowing, Newcastle University

  • Dr Claudia Ringler, International Food Policy Research Institute

  • Dr Gete Zeleke, Water and land Resource Centre (view presentation)

  • Chair: Prof. Tassew Woldehanna, University of Addis Ababa



Break-out 2 | Institutions, risk and poverty

Whether in a household, community, town or water basin, institutions shape risks which influence poverty transitions and outcomes for women, men and children. Institutions assign risk and blame from water hazards, and allocate who bears responsibility for managing risks. Media, politics and culture shape the processes and practices of risk management over time. We examine these questions from multi-decadal analysis of water quality risks in Bangladesh, rural and urban water institutions in Kenya, and river basin management in Ethiopia. 

  • Alex Fischer, University of Oxford

  • Dr Johanna Koehler, University of Oxford

  • Discussants: Dr  Tena Alamirew, Water and Land Resource Centre; Prof. Md. Abed Hossain, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; Professor Mahbuba Nasreen, University of Dhaka

  • Chair: Prof. Rob Hope, University of Oxford

Break-out 3 | Managing for climate resilience

Climate variability and change are a key threat to the water sector. Droughts, floods, changes in disease patterns and uncertainty require integrated planning approaches. This session explores the challenges of managing and planning for climate resilience in the Awash basin, Ethiopia, considering aspects of uncertainty and future climate change, while ensuring more equitable outcomes. Presenters will discuss tools and approaches relevant to other contexts in Ethiopia and internationally.

  • ​​​Dr Catherine Grasham, University of Oxford (view presentation)

  • Dr Feyera Hirpa, University of Oxford (view presentation)

  • Dr Meron Teferi Taye, Water and Land Resource Centre (view presentation)

  • Discussants: Dr Barbara van Koppen, IWMI;Dr  Alan Nicol, International Water Management Institute

  • Chair: Dan Yeo, Independent Analyst



Break-out 4 | Not just respondents: knowledge co-production through transdisciplinary participatory research

This session will discuss alternative experiences of research informed by people’s knowledge, drawing attention to how the “researched” as well as other non-academic stakeholders can and do bring their own perspectives on the production and validation of knowledge. We will use insights from ongoing research in Bangladesh to explain how diverse experiences relating to water emerged from such methods to answer the following questions: 1) How can knowledge be truly co-produced in a spirit of mutual learning and respect? 2) How do transdisciplinary approaches help further social and environmental justice?

  • ​​​Dr Deepa Joshi, International Water Management Institute

  • Javier Sanchez Rodriguez, Braich Goch

  • Dr Jasber Singh, Coventry University 

  • Dr Tina Wallace, University of Oxford




Lecture Theatre

Plenary | Aligning sectors to achieve SDG 6.3

Sustainable Development Goal 6.3 aims to improve ambient water quality through reducing pollution, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater that is discharged to the environment. Increasing pollution associated with urbanisation and industrialisation are placing increasing pressure on ecosystems, while little success has been measured in meeting this SDG target. This session will tackle the challenge of how progress towards reducing pollution can be accelerated through science and policy interventions.

  • Mr Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator for SDG Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Bangladesh

  • Charles Dickinson, Primark

  • Dr Jenny Grönwall, Stockholm International Water Institute

  • Dr Nilufa Islam, Bangladesh Water Partnership

  • Chair: Dr Graham Alabaster, UN-HABITAT

Plenary | Water justice: recognising gendered needs and practices

Water justice implies recognising social differences, social norms and practices that ultimately lead to inequalities in terms of access to and use of water and of water governance. Acknowledging the existing inequalities and heterogeneity within social groups is essential to develop tailored and fair water-related interventions and policies, and to ensure their implementation. This session will discuss diverse gender aspects of water justice, presenting key conclusions from a REACH report and discussing the most critical and novel aspects emerging from the multiple REACH research studies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya.

  • ​​​Dr Deepa Joshi, International Water Management Institute (view presentation)

  • Dr Marina Korzenevica-Proud, University of Oxford (view presentation)

  • Dr Maggie Opondo, University of Nairobi

  • Dr Salome Bukachi, University of Nairobi (view presentation)

  • Dr Zenawi Zerihun, Mekelle University

  • Chair: Dr Alan Nicol, International Water Management Institute


Lecture Theatre


9:00 - 10:30


Break-out 1 | Groundwater and poverty in Africa

Improving groundwater science is considered necessary to improve water security for the poor. What is the current status of groundwater science in Africa? Is groundwater science being used effectively to reduce poverty? Is the relationship between groundwater and poverty adequately understood? Are there effective institutions and policies to translate science into meaningful action at the right level? We debate these questions from the perspectives of science, policy and practice with examples drawn from the work of REACH and UPGRo.

  • ​​​Dr Irene Guijt, Oxfam GB

  • Dr Seifu Kebede, University of Addis Ababa

  • Prof. Dan Olago, University of Nairobi

  • Florence Tanui, University of Nairobi

  • Chair: Dr Johanna Koehler, University of Oxford

Break-out 2 | The challenges of achieving safe water

Ensuring the safe quality of drinking water has been a low priority in the push towards improving access. Safety has been assumed to be provided by improved technologies, with limited emphasis on verifying quality or monitoring systems. This session will present results from REACH research to advance safe drinking water through technical, behaviour and institutional developments.

  • ​​​Dr Caroline Delaire, Aquaya

  • Dr Md. Sirajul Islam, icddr,b (view presentation)

  • Dr Sara Marks, EAWAG

  • Saskia Nowicki, University of Oxford

  • Chair: Dr Andrew Trevett, UNICEF Kenya

9:00 - 10:30


Break-out 3 | African climate: knowledge production and decision making

Researchers are increasingly encouraged to work with practitioners and policy-makers to accelerate impact. The assumption is often that knowledge flows in a uni-directional way: researchers produce data which then gets taken up by policy-makers and practitioners. This session explores different models of production and flows of knowledge for decision making with examples from African projects. It will discuss how knowledge can be co-created, shared and used for long term development, adaptation and poverty reduction, and will examine successful or promising examples of circular exchanges of knowledge and expertise.

  • Maurine Ambani, Kenya Red Cross

  • Sukaina Bharwani, Stockholm Environment Institute

  • Dr Ellen Dyer, University of Oxford

  • Dr Sophie Haines, University of Oxford

  • Dr Rachel James, University of Oxford

  • Dr Gilbert Ouma, University of Nairobi

  • Chair: Prof. Rosalind Cornforth, University of Reading

9:00 - 10:30


Plenary | Water security across scales

Water security shapes the local practices of the poor every day in regional systems of shifting environmental processes and shocks. How can these inconvenient scales be effectively considered so policy can make decisions to benefit the poor? If we have more information and smarter models will that lead to better decisions? What is the right scale for water security interventions? We illustrate the case of coastal Bangladesh to reflect on the implications in the differing contexts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

  • ​​​Prof. Jim Hall, University of Oxford

  • Dr Sonia Hoque, University of Oxford

  • Md. Saif Uddin, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

  • Sabrina Zaman, University of Dhaka

  • Discussants: Prof. Dan Olago, University of Nairobi; Prof. Tassew Woldehana, University of Addis Ababa 


Lecture Theatre

To access presentation slides, click on the 'view presentation' link next to the speaker name
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