New Project To Identify Barriers Preventing Sustainable Water Services

A new initiative has been set up by UK Research and Innovation, part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, to tackle water security, urban disaster risk management and to identify the barriers that are currently preventing the delivery of sustainable water services.


The scheme will see £200 million invested across 12 global research hubs to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the world at the moment, with the University of Leeds a key partner of the £17.7 million Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub.


Researchers from the university bring together expertise in social science, engineering and science to tackle water challenges head on, including resource recovery from wastewater and faecal sludge, sanitation, hygiene and water services in the global south, and global water resource modelling and remote sensing datasets.


Some 80 per cent of the global population now live in areas threatened by water security, which is being exacerbated by pressures like urbanisation, pollution and land degradation. The hub will collect scientific data and work with stakeholders from government ministries, local communities and non-government organisations to find new solutions to deal with water security issues.

“This new project will help to identify the barriers holding back the delivery of sustainable water services by considering the multi-dimensional complexity of water.


“It will incorporate a wider range of perspectives including religion, environment, gender, social circumstances and culture, that take into account the need for equity and the basic needs of the poor and the vulnerable,” Dr Miller Alonso Camargo-Valero from Leeds University’s School of Civil Engineering commented.


A recent report from Arup – Cities Alive: Water for People – revealed late last year that there are now 1.9 billion people who live in places facing serious water scarcity issues. And one in four big cities around the world are already under water stress, with demand for this precious resource only predicted to increase, climbing by 50 per cent come the year 2050.


The publication advised prioritising a more integrated and broader strategy for urban infrastructure design, looking into the likes of flood risk management, rainwater harvesting and so on, and incorporating it with existing infrastructure that can be retrofitted to make it more multifunctional.


Commenting at the time, the International Water Association’s Corinne Trommsdorff said that people now need to take action with regards to water-sensitive urban design, basin-connected cities and regenerative water services. The hope is, she went on to say, that the report will inspire urban leaders to redefines, addresses and resolves problems based on the needs of people and what they themselves can contribute.


Even we here in the UK face water scarcity issues – with the Environment Agency recently warning that England could face supply shortages come 2050 unless action is taken now to reduce water use and wastage.


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