Safa Fanaian

Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Geography and the Environment - Degree completed in 2023

Supervisor: Dr Dustin Garrick

Rivers and cities: exploring their complex water-risk and its governance

Academic Profile

Safa Fanaian’s DPhil research focuses on the understanding and mapping governance of water-related risks faced by growing riverine cities in the global south, and specifically those in the intermediate category (<1million population). The case of Guwahati and its rivers are explored, as it is an emblem of urbanization on the Brahmaputra River. Particular focus is given to risk of inadequate water supply, wastewater/sewage released into rivers, and urban floods.

Safa is currently an Oxford-Indira Gandhi Scholar at the Oxford-India Centre for Sustainable Development, Somerville College. She is also the recipient of a National Geographic Explorer grant.

Prior to her DPhil, Safa worked for more than seven years with various development agencies to improve water security in South Asia. She has an MSc in Water Management from IHE-Delft, Institute for Water Education, Netherlands and an MSc in Ecology and Environmental Science from Pondicherry University, India.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Book Chapters


  • Fauconnier, I., Jenniskens, A., Perry, P., Fanaian, S., Sen, S., Sinha, V. and Witmer, L. (2018) Women as change-makers in the governance of shared waters. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, viii + 50pp.
  • Maskara, M. and Fanaian, S. (2017) Arsenic Risks: Access to Safe Drinking Water. Geography and You.. 61-63.
  • Fanaian, S., Deka, A. and Gulati, V. (2016) Towards transboundary River Governance: Brahmaputra Dialogue Initiative. ENVIS Newsletter, Himalayan Water Resources - Transboundary Challenges and Opportunities, 13(3).

Recent Blog Posts

Safa Fanaian
Research Clusters
Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment