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Academic secures €1.3M European Research Council Starting Grant

5 September 2023

Image of pipe with water coming out of it

A Cardiff academic has secured a €1.3M European Research Council Starting Grant to examine how new and unconventional water resources – such as water desalination and wastewater reuse – are being used to address chronic and worsening water challenges in Africa.

The research, led by Dr Joe Williams of the School of Geography and Planning, will focus on Kenya and Morocco, two countries which are both for different reasons turning to unconventional water in the face of entrenched water-related constraints.

Many experts see the transition to unconventional water as one of the most important – and potentially game-changing – responses to water crisis, but we know very little about what implications these new water infrastructures will have on development in contexts in the Global South. This research will address that gap.

It will also explore the debate around place-based water challenges which are rooted in colonial history and shaped by the global flows of finance, technology and knowledge.

Dr Williams said: “It’s crucial we understand more about the emergence of ‘new’ or unconventional water resources and how they can be used to help societies achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This research will develop important new insights on the social and political implications of this important transition.”

One of 400 Starting Grants awarded to young scientists and scholars across Europe, the funding – which is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme - aims to support cutting edge research and enable researchers at the beginning of their careers to launch their own projects, form teams, and pursue their best ideas.

Dr Williams added: “I’m delighted to receive this award. It is an incredible honour to be part of this community of exciting emerging researchers, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to build a research team to work on such important and pressing challenges.”

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