Dr Rob Hope is an Associate Professor at the School of Geography and the Environment and Director of the Water Programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He is a development economist with expertise in water economics and development policy. His work applies economic theory and techniques in the measurement, design and evaluation of policies and interventions which promote improved environmental and social outcomes. This includes theoretical advances in behavioural economics and social choice theory, methodological progress in interdisciplinary water research, and leadership in establishing Oxford's cross-department research group working on 'Smart Water Systems'.
He has won competitive research grants from UK research councils (ESRC, NERC), DFID, UNICEF, John Fell Fund and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The research has featured in international media including BBC television, radio and online. He is Director of the REACH: Improving water security for the poor programme (DFID, 2015-2022) and the Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development project (NERC/ESRC/DFID, 2015-19). He also leads ESRC/DFID and UNICEF grants.
His earlier work has been funded by World Bank, OECD and Gates Foundation for projects in Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He previously directed Oxford's MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management (2006-13) and continues to teach water economics, development policy and research design.
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.
Water Security, Growth and Development
Improved understanding of water risks and institutional responses against competing growth and development goals is central to promoting growth with socially and environmentally-responsible outcomes. Growth often aligns where risks are high in emerging economies with nascent institutions, rapid population growth, unpredictable climates, chronic poverty and an infrastructural deficit. This thematic area develops and tests interdisciplinary tools and new frameworks that explicitly recognise the role enterprise can make in promoting responsible and socially-acceptable environmental and development change. Signature projects include REACH: Improving water security for the poor (2015-22) and GRo for GooD (2015-19).
Smart Water Systems
The convergence of mobile network coverage, mobile handset ownership, mobile money platforms and smart meters has advanced new approaches to promote water security for the poor. Established in 2009, Dr Hope leads a cross-departmental group of a dozen researchers with Engineering Science working with the mobile industry, mining, agriculture, UNICEF and governments in Africa and Asia. The work has includes Smart Handpumps which have dramatically improved the policy and practice of rural water sustainability. New work uses new methodologies to improve groundwater monitoring. Related work on water payment behaviours is promoting novel financial models in urban and rural contexts. Signature projects include ESRC/DFID (2012-17) and UNICEF (2014-16).
Selected Research Projects
Postgraduate teaching for MSc and DPhil students:
- Water and Development
- Socio-political Nature of Water
- Water Economics
- Research Methods
Current Graduate Research Students
Do new information flows influence better water institutions in fragile states? Exploring the contingent relationships between decision-makers and measurement technologies
Geospatially distributed impacts of mining and irrigation on water growth and development in Kwale, Kenya
Democracy, decentralisation and development in Kenya: an assessment of structural change in the water sector
Pathways to Water Security: Evaluating the impacts of irrigation investments in Madhya Pradesh, India
Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)
Completed DPhil in 2016
From cash flows to water flows: an assessment of financial risks to rural water supply sustainability in sub-Saharan Africa
Completed DPhil in 2014
Women and work in irrigated landscapes in rural India
Completed DPhil in 2014
Mobile-enabled payments methods and public service delivery in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Completed DPhil in 2014
Corporate water risk and return
Completed DPhil in 2013
Burning water - the state, irrigation technology and the production of scarcity in Spain
Completed DPhil in 2012
Living with environmental change in the endorheic oasis systems of the northern Sahara
- Colchester, F.E., Marais, H.G., Thomson, P., Hope, R. and Clifton, D.A. (2017) Accidental infrastructure for groundwater monitoring in Africa. Environmental Modelling and Software, 91: 241-250.
- Foster, T. and Hope, R. (2017) Evaluating waterpoint sustainability and access implications of revenue collection approaches in rural Kenya. Water Resources Research, 53(2): 1473-1490.
- Hope, R. (2017) A poor choice? Public policy, social choice and the right to water. In, Langford, M. and Russell, A.F.S. (eds.) The Human Right to Water. Cambridge University Press. pp. 601-602. ISBN: 9780511862601.
- Foster, T. and Hope, R. (2016) A multi-decadal and social-ecological systems analysis of community waterpoint payment behaviours in rural Kenya. Journal of Rural Studies, 47(A): 85-96.
- Koehler, J., Thomson, P. and Hope, R. (2016) Mobilizing Payments for Water Service Sustainability. Chap. 6 in, Thomas, E.A. (ed.) Broken Pumps and Promises: Incentivizing Impact in Environmental Health. Springer International Publishing. pp. 57-76. ISBN: 978-3-319-28641-9.
- Kovacs, E.K., Kumar, C., Agarwal, C., Adams, W.M., Hope, R.A. and Vira, B. (2016) The politics of negotiation and implementation: a reciprocal water access agreement in the Himalayan foothills, India. Ecology and Society, 21(2): 37.
- Hope, R. (2015) Is community water management the community’s choice? Implications for water and development policy in Africa. Water Policy, 17(4): 664-678.
- Koehler, J., Thomson, P. and Hope, R. (2015) Pump-priming payments for sustainable water services in rural Africa. World Development, 74: 397-411.
- Colchester, F.E., Greeff, H., Thomson, P., Hope, R. and Clifton, D.A. (2014) Smart Handpumps: A Preliminary Data Analysis. IET Appropriate Healthcare Technologies (AHT), London.. 1-4.
- Hope, R. and Rouse, M. (2014) Risks and Responses to Universal Drinking Water Security. Ch. 39 in, Jägerskog, A., Swain, A. and Öjendal, J. (eds.) Water Security, Vol. 3: Water Security and Development. SAGE Publications Ltd. pp. 155-182. ISBN: 9781446293928. SAGE Library of International Security Series..
- Garrick, D. and Hope, R.A. (2013) Water security risk and response: the logic and limits of economic instruments. In, Lankford, B., Bakker, K., Zeitoun, M. and Conway, D. (eds.) Water Security - Principles, Perspectives and Practices. Routledge, London. 376 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-53471-0.
- Hall, J., Grey, D., Garrick, D., Dadson, S. and Hope, R. (2013) Preface. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 371(2002): 1-2. This is one article from the Theme Issue ‘Water security, risk and society’.
- Hope, R. and Rouse, M. (2013) Risks and responses to universal drinking water security. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 371(2002): 1-23. This is one article from the Theme Issue ‘Water security, risk and society’..
- Foster, T., Hope, R., Thomas, M., Cohen, I., Krolikowski, A. and Nyaga, C. (2012) Impacts and implications of mobile water payments in East Africa. Water International, 37(7): 788-804.
- Hope, R., Foster, T. and Thomson, P. (2012) Reducing risks to rural water security in Africa. Ambio, 41(7): 773-776.
- Hope, R.A. (2012) Mobile Water for Development and Growth. Global Policy, Comment and Opinion Blog, Wiley-Blackwell.
- Hope, R.A., Foster, T., Money, A. and Rouse, M. (2012) Harnessing mobile communications innovations for water security. Global Policy, 3(4): 433-442.
- Thomson, P., Hope, R. and Foster, T. (2012) GSM-enabled remote monitoring of rural handpumps: a proof-of-concept study. Journal of Hydroinformatics, 14(4): 829-839.
- Thomson, P., Hope, R. and Foster, T. (2012) Is silence golden? Of mobiles, monitoring and rural water supplies. Waterlines, 31(4): 280-292.
- Vira, B., Adams, W., Agarwal, C., Badiger, S., Hope, R.A., Krishnaswamy, J. and Kumar, C. (2012) Negotiating trade-offs: making informed choices for ecosystem services. Economic and Political Weekly, XLVII(9): 67-75.
- Hope, R., Foster, T., Krolikowski, A. and Cohen, I. (2011) Mobile water payment innovations in urban Africa. School of Geography and the Environment and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, Oxford University, Oxford, UK. 35 pp.
- Hope, R., Foster, T., Money, A., Rouse, M., Money, N. and Thomas, M. (2011) Smart Water Systems. Oxford University, Oxford. 14 pp. Project report to UK DFID, April 2011.
- Edmunds, W.M. and Hope, R.A. (2010) Water sustainability and security in Africa. Chapter 7 in, Agyeman-Duah, I. (ed.) Pilgrims of the Night: Development challenges and opportunities in Africa. Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited. 224 pp. ISBN: 9780956240156.
- Hope, R.A., Borgoyary, M. and Agarwal, C. (2009) Incentives that work for farmers and wetlands. In, Kumar, P. and Muradian, R. (eds.) Payment for Ecosystem Services. Oxford University Press, Delhi. 324 pp. ISBN: 9780195698749.
- Hope, R.A., Frost, P.G.H., Gardiner, A. and Ghazoul, J. (2009) Experimental analysis of adoption of domestic mopane worm farming technology in Zimbabwe. Development Southern Africa, 26(1): 29-46.
- Mayers, J., Batchelor, C., Bond, I., Hope, R., Morrison, E. and Wheeler, B. (2009) Water ecosystem services and poverty under climate change: key issues and research priorities. International Institute for Environment and Development, London. 75 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84369-687-2. Natural Resource Issues, 17.
- Hope, R., Borgoyary, M. and Agarwal, C. (2008) Smallholder preferences for agri-environmental change at the Bhoj wetland, India. Development Policy Review, 26(5): 585-602.
- Hope, R.A., Jewitt, G.P.W. and Gowing, J.W. (2008) The contested future of irrigation in African rural livelihoods - analysis from a water scarce catchment in South Africa. Water Policy, 10(2): 173-192.
- Hope, R.A. (2007) Evaluating social impacts of watershed development in India. World Development, 35(8): 1436-1449.
- Hope, R.A., Porras, I., Borgoyary, M., Miranda, M., Agarwal, C., Tiwari, S. and Amezaga, J.M. (2007) Negotiating Watershed Services. International Institute for the Environment and Development, London. pp. 25. ISBN: 978-1-84369-677-3.
- Greiber, T., Hope, R.A. and Iza, A. (2006) Rules at work. In, IUCN (ed.) PAY - Establishing payments for watershed services. World Conservation Union, Gland.
- Hope, R.A. (2006) Evaluating water policy scenarios against the priorities of the rural poor. World Development, 34(1): 167-179.
- Hope, R.A. (2006) Water, workfare and poverty: the impact of the Working for Water Programme on rural poverty reduction. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 8: 139-156.
- Hope, R.A., Porras, I.T., Bergkamp, G. and Smith, M. (2006) Learning from experience in partnerships. In, IUCN (ed.) PAY - Establishing payments for watershed services. World Conservation Union, Gland.
- Hope, R.A., Porras, I.T., Bergkamp, G. and Smith, M. (2006) Learning from Partners and Experience. In, IUCN (ed.) PAY - A practitioners' guide for financing ecosystem services for water. World Conservation Union.
- Porras, I.T. and Hope, R.A. (2006) Roadmap towards agreement. In, IUCN (ed.) PAY - Establishing payments for watershed services. World Conservation Union, Gland.
- Hope, R.A., Porras, I.T., Miranda, M., Agarwal, C. and Amezaga, J. (2005) Are the poor benefiting from environmental service reward schemes? European Tropical Forestry Research Network, 45-46: 36-39.
- Hope, R.A. and Garrod, G.D. (2004) Household preferences to water policy interventions in rural South Africa. Water Policy, 6: 487-499.
- Hope, R.A., Jewitt, G.P.W. and Gowing, J.W. (2004) Linking the hydrological cycle and rural livelihoods: A case study in the Luvuvhu catchment, South Africa. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 29: 1209-1217.
- Hope, R.A. (2002) Wildlife harvesting, conservation and poverty: the economics of olive ridley egg exploitation. Environmental Conservation, 29(3): 375-384.