Research projects

ESR 4: Rainwater harvesting, storage and use in mitigating drought emergencies in semiarid environments

Early Stage Researcher: ​​​​Radhika Singh
Host institution: University of Nairobi, Kenya
Principal supervisor: Prof. Oguge Nicholas Otienoh
Co-supervisor: Prof. Robert Hope
Non-academic co-supervisor: Mr. James Oduor


Policies in water governance tend to be addressed either as an infrastructure or food production issue. Different sectors are often mandated to manage the two components, and rarely is a nexus approach applied. Water governance as an infrastructure focuses on development of water facilities, while for food production, the focus is on sustaining livelihoods and food security. In East Africa, this dichotomous approach has led marginal consideration of rainwater harvesting in policies, strategies, and frameworks in the public sector. It is our thesis that appropriate public policies, strategies, and regulation of rainwater harvesting would significantly contribute to environmental, economic, and social development.  In semiarid environments, this would increase smallholder farmers' resilience to climate change.

This research project will:

  1. Analyse regulatory frameworks for water facilities and use in East Africa;
  2. Contribute to understanding rainwater harvesting systems and use in the region;
  3. Assess the role of networks in development rainwater harvesting systems;
  4. Conduct cost-benefit analysis
  5. Develop models of decentralised rainwater harvesting and utilisation.

Expected results:

  1. Determination of policy enablers and barriers;
  2. Cost-effective rainwater harvesting systems for small holder farmers in different contexts;
  3. Models for integrating water infrastructure and farmer livelihoods.

About Radhika Singh

Radhika Singh is a recent graduate from MIT, where she studied urban and regional planning. Her research over the last two years has focused on water provision and management, particularly in arid areas. She recently co-authored a book, Along the Betwa: A Riverwalk through the Drought-Prone Region of Bundelkhand, India​, which will be published in September 2021. Before her master's degree, Radhika worked as a correspondent for The Indian Express in Mumbai and as a project manager for the urban planning organisation INHAF in Ahmedabad.

LinkedIn profile: Radhika Singh


Radhika Singh
NEWAVE Early Stage Researcher, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Nairobi, Kenya

Prof. Oguge Nicholas Otienoh
Professor of Environmental Policy, Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP), University of Nairobi, Kenya

Prof. Robert Hope
Professor of Water Policy, Director, Water Security Initiative, School of Geography and the Environment, Director of the Water Programme, Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Mr. James Oduor
CEO at National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Kenya