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Water Stressed Cities: Individual choice, access to water and pathways to resilience in sub-Saharan Africa

The pressures are particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa, where rapid rates of urbanization and economic growth - combined with the challenge of climate change and unsustainable water management practices - are creating both slow burn and rapid onset water stress.

Responding to this societal challenge, UKRI has financed a 7-year Future Leaders Fellowship focusing on four cities in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Windhoek, Namibia.


Working with local academics, we will explore how firms and households respond to water shocks and water stress, what shapes these responses and how those responses impact upon the opportunities available to others, the surrounding urban environment and the overall resilience of the city.

We examine the positive role groundwater can play in promoting urban resilience, but also the risks of over-abstraction and potential contamination. It combines research into urban water governance, hydrogeological contexts, social learning, behavioural psychology and socio-economic outcomes.


We are supported by:

  • UN-Habitat
  • WaterAid
  • Stockholm International Water Institute
  • ARUP
  • British Geological Survey
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Ibadan
  • University of Namibia
  • the respective urban authorities.


This Fellowship involves a range of wider engagement activities to stimulate debate and encourage the development of effective governance and policy making.

The project team

Principal investigator

Dr Adrian Healy

Principal Research Fellow


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: