Academic Profile

Rob Hope is a Research Lecturer and Director of the Water Programme at the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment. Prior to this he was Course Director of the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management. He has a PhD in Water and Development (Newcastle) and an MSc in Environment and Development (Manchester). Prior to joining the School of Geography and the Environment in 2006, Rob worked at the Centre for Land Use and Water Resources Research at Newcastle University. His research focuses on water and human development in relation to policy, design, performance and impacts of ecosystem services initiatives and the sustainability of improved water supply services in developing countries. His research has been funded by ESRC, NERC, World Bank, UK DFID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Skoll Foundation in Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Current Research

Rob's research examines the relationship between water access and human development. He has worked on several, large interdisciplinary teams (hydrology, engineering, economics, political science, anthropology) on catchment/basin management and sustainable water supply services in India and sub-Saharan Africa. The analytical approaches that shape this work relate to how social choices influence human behaviour, project performance and developmental impacts both at the local level and in terms of shaping public policy to promote more sustainable and evidence-based interventions at scale.

Mobile Water for Development

Delivering a sufficient, reliable and affordable supply of safe water is an enduring public policy challenge. Rob is leading an interdisciplinary, cross-departmental research cluster that sets out to design, build and evaluate mobile technology innovations for water security called mobile/water for development. The cluster have recently completed a cross-country analysis of mobile water payment innovations in urban Africa and have started the first global studies that are testing 'smart handpumps' in rural Kenya and Zambia. They are also examining how 'smart river systems' may be designed to negotiate fairer and more sustainable outcomes in Kenya under increasing hydro-climatic risk and competing water demands.

Negotiating Ecosystems Services

Making informed choices about ecosystems and their services is central to the political economy of managing environmental and societal change. Understanding local uses and associated values of complex and dynamic ecosystem services (biodiversity, water, carbon) will shape potential interventions to reward or deter behavioural responses that may lead to sub-optimal outcomes for people and nature. Rob continues to work on several initiatives that conduct exploratory experimental analysis of future scenarios of ecosystem change based on empirical analysis of social preferences and priorities (ex-ante). This work includes different initiatives around payments/incentives for ecosystem services to guide policy in understanding the trade-offs in the elusive but important global initiatives for poverty reduction and ecosystem conservation (i.e. ESPA, REDD+, PES). His work also considers institutional economics and developmental impacts (ex-post) of competing models of water management in irrigation systems, wetlands and forested catchments in various countries.

Selected Research Projects

  • New Mobile Citizens and Waterpoint Sustainability in Rural Africa
    Funded by ESRC (2012-15)
  • Smart Water Systems
    Funded by UK DFID (2010-13)
  • Mobile Water Payment Innovations in Urban Africa
    Funded by Skoll Foundation (2011)
  • Water Security, Risk and Society
    Funded by University of Oxford John Fell Fund (2011-13)
  • Negotiating Trade-Offs Making Informed Decisions about Ecosystem Services
    Funded by ESPA (NERC/ESRC/DFID) (2010-12)
  • Strengthening Capacity to Alleviate Poverty through Ecosystem Services
    Funded by ESPA (NERC/ESRC/DFID) (2009-10)
  • Multiple Use Water Systems for Poverty Reduction
    Financial support from World Bank - Water and Sanitation Programme; (2008-2010)
  • Sustainable Rural Water Supply in Mozambique
    Financial support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; (2008-2009)
  • Water Ecosystems and Poverty Reduction under Climate Change
    Financial support from UK Department for International Development (DfID); (2006-2007)
  • Mopane Woodlands and Mopane Worms
    Financial support from UK Department for International Development (DfID); (2005-2006)
  • Low Base Flows and Livelihoods
    Financial support from UK Department for International Development (DfID); (2004-2006)
  • Negotiating Watershed Services
    Financial support from UK Department for International Development (DfID); (2002-2006)
  • Catchment Management and Poverty Reduction
    Financial support from UK Department for International Development (DfID); (2001-2004)


Postgraduate teaching for MSc and DPhil students:

  • Water and Development
  • Socio-political Nature of Water
  • Water Economics
  • Research Methods

Current Graduate Research Students

Alexandra Girard

Women, water and work in rural India

Kathleen Hansen

A social-ecological systems analaysis of rescaled water governance in South Africa

Aaron Krolikowski

Mobile-enabled payments methods and public service delivery in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Alex Money

Corporate water risk and return

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Alvar Closas
Completed in 2013

Burning water - the state, irrigation technology and the production of scarcity in Spain

Selected Publications

Publications are those that were listed on the old website. Publications database integration forthcoming.