Last week we welcomed three new PhD candidates at the Global Development Institute, who will be working on FutureDAMS. We asked them to introduce themselves…

Bethany Coleman

I’m joining the FutureDAMS project after completing an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Sheffield, and a master’s degree in Water Science and Governance from King’s College London.

I have a long-standing interest in water politics and management from studying the subject right through my degrees. More recently I have enjoyed reading about the political ecology of dam development, decision-making processes and the generation of opportunities that could come with building better dams.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Okavango delta on a pilot interdisciplinary fieldwork trip with the PLuS Alliance (KCL, ASU and UNSW), and it was a great way to understand how water science and policy interconnect, and how vital an understanding in both fields is essential to effective decision-making in river basin development.

I am grateful for the opportunities the FutureDAMS project opens up for me in continuing to explore the politics of future dam development in Africa, home my skills in becoming a great researcher and providing a platform for my contribution to solving problems in large water resource development.

Sam Stratford

I did my undergrad here in politics and international relations. I then did my master’s at LSE in development studies where I was particularly interested in political economy analysis and complex emergencies.

During both my undergrad and master’s I tended to focus on issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular the countries in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. When I left LSE I first worked in a humanitarian NGO for a few months before moving into political risk, where I was an analyst for the Horn of Africa and East Africa. This allowed me to continue to analyse and learn about a wide range of issues affecting the region, including dam building which is a particularly contentious issue at the regional, domestic and local levels.

My research will centre on the political economy of the decision making process behind dams in the Nile Basin with a focus on Ethiopia and (possibly) Uganda.

Sarah Redicker

I handed in my master’s thesis just two weeks ago and I will graduate in two programs from the University of Passau :

  1. Development Studies M.A. at with study focus on development economics, sustainability and resource management
  2. Geography: Culture, Environment and Tourism M.A. with study focus on regional development and Southeast Asia

The title of my master thesis is “Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture Practices: Evidence from Indonesia” and it is based on a quantitative analyses of data that was collected for the IndOrganic research project. I am still waiting for the results!

My interest for dams derives from my interest and experiences in the fields of agriculture and sustainable resource management. Global food production is faced by serious of challenges like a growing population and an accompanying rising demand for agricultural production, shrinking areas of arable land and an additional threat due to climate change and its unpredictable effects. These effects might be even more substantial in developing countries due to a fast growing population and a low resilience to shocks. A measure to counteract those shocks caused by climate change are increased investments in infrastructure projects, especially dam projects.

I believe that dams have the potential to have a positive impact on the economic and social well-being of the population by providing electricity, and a steady and regular water supply. However, the construction of large dams is among the most costly and controversial forms of public infrastructure investment in developing countries. Good planning and understanding of the impact of such projects is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Therefore, I want to focus the research of my PhD on the impact of dams on the agricultural sector while highlighting ways in which irrigation systems can be sustainably managed.


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