‘The missing middle: addressing tensions in interdisciplinary ‘solutions-focused’ water research projects’

The latest FutureDAMS seminar was delivered by Dr Anna Mdee, Associate Professor in International Development in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. Her talk focused on water governance in northern Tanzania, based on over ten years’ experience in the country – including a year working at Mzumbe University in Tanzania. More recently, she has is a Co-investigator on the GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub, based at Newcastle University.

Key themes in Dr Mdee’s talk were the distinction between official policy and the capacity of the state to implement these ambitions. This promotes a process of “Isomorphic Mimicry” where government departments will design policy documents that meets the vision of international donor agencies, with little expectation that this will lead to on-the-ground change. This is a particularly pertinent issue for GCRF projects, which often state improving policy in water and environmental governance as a key aim, with less attention directed at how this policy will be implemented.  Wider themes were also discussed such as the tendency of projects aiming to build capacity in developing nations to backfire by overloading the in country academics and partners, particularly with the recent proliferation of GCRF-type projects.

The next FutureDAMS seminar will be held on 13 December, 17:00-18:00 in Manchester and will be given by Jennifer Hodbod from Michigan State University.

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