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Water journeys: accessing safe drinking water in Tanzania

Project Description

Access to clean water is a basic human right; however, worldwide over 700 million people still lack access to a safe, reliable and sustainable supply of water (UNICEF & WHO 2015). Target 6.1 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) highlights the need to, ’achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’ by 2030. Global figures show gradual improvements in people’s access to safe water, however, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has lagged behind other regions (WHO & UNICEF 2014). In Tanzania, only 50% of the population had access to basic water services in 2015 and there are still large spatial disparities in accessing clean water, with residents of rural areas and low-income urban areas being under-served compared to other residents. Consequently, there is a substantial disconnect between large-scale water access monitoring that occurs within the SDG framework and the reality of people’s everyday access to water in rural and low-income urban areas. This PhD will take an individual-centric approach to water access, by exploring the everyday realities of people (mainly women and children) accessing drinking water in Tanzania and connecting decision makers to these experiences by exploring ways to make SDG6.1 a reality by 2030 in Tanzania.

The overarching aim of this project is to critically explore both current and future spatio-temporal patterns of community access to safe drinking water in rural and urban low-income communities of Tanzania.

The specific objectives are to:

• Use observation techniques, filmed walking interviews and creative methods in order to understand people’s experiences of accessing water over space and time;

• Quantify the spatio-temporal changes in people’s water quality by analysing microbial contamination in household water samples;

• Utilise participatory workshops with key stakeholders to predict future spatially-refined water access in rural and low-income urban Tanzania.

The supervision team is led by Dr. Heather Price at the University of Stirling, alongside Dr. Richard Quilliam (University of Stirling) and Dr. Emiliana Mwita (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania).
The PhD sits within the Human Geography, Environment and Urban Planning pathway of the Scottish Graduate School for Social Science.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a geography/ social science component
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, water access in the developing world context
• Be willing to undertake two or three fieldwork campaigns in Tanzania
• A good grounding in experimental methods in geography/ social science, skills and experience in analysing qualitative and quantitative (including spatial) data, communication skills and a passion for interdisciplinary research.

Funding Notes

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. The 1+3 scholarship is for candidates with a first degree in social sciences or a related area but no Masters-level training. For these candidates, the studentship would also provide fees and stipend for the additional year to complete the MRes in Applied Social Research as preparation for undertaking the PhD.
This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process that the PhD is available full time or part time.


The programme will commence in October 2019. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

How to apply
1. Applicants register on GradHub and fill out EO data (this is a requirement of the application process)
2. Applicants download and complete the Word-based application form (download here)
3. Applicants complete the GradHub application form and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
• Application form
• Academic transcripts
• References
• CV

Selection process
The deadline for applications is the 15th March 2019. Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 19th March 2019. Interviews will take place on 25th March 2019.
All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Stirling. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.
Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here:

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