PhD Researcher Profile: Pratik Mishra

‘What can the study of informal and subversive practices by which peri-urban farmers lay claim to urban-oriented water flows in drinking and waste-water canals tell us about the equity and justice dimensions of urbanization in growing Indian cities?’

‘How do notions of honor attached to agricultural land interact with its market-determined value to create a context of exchange where different ‘regimes of value’ coexist?’

‘Why do countries with similar economic backgrounds end up with different levels of alcohol consumption per capita and different mixes of beer, wine and spirits up to the present day?’

 

These are three different questions that Pratik Mishra has committed his time to answering over the last 2 years before he joined King’s as a PhD researcher in Human Geography, basing his research more or less around the first question.

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Pratik Mishra is from Bhubaneswar, a city on the east coast of India. He completed his Bachelors in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur and his Masters in Sustainable Development Practice from TERI University, New Delhi. Though he has held no prior position that would strictly count as a job, he worked on a number of internships and his ethnographic rural field research experience would make for around 15 months cumulatively. In a subtle incremental way, this experience has helped him quite a lot in knowing the right questions to ask and negotiating research in completely new villages looking out of place with a backpack and a notepad (though he still remains quite afraid of stray dogs which is a significant occupational hazard in his line of work!)

Pratik’s project will explore the ways in which canals meant to serve the urban metabolism do not constitute inert flows as they make their way through ‘conduit’ peri-urban villages serving variously as sites of seepage, irrigation, theft, conflict, street-level bureaucracy, etc. The canals that represent rural-urban flows of water come to signify a relationship between the urban and its periphery that might be expropriative or otherwise, but of course in a much more nuanced sense. He hopes that his research will be able to intersect and provide new insights in literatures on Southern Urbanism, Water Politics and Institutions, and Urban Political Ecology. Given that social research on urban metabolism bringing out all the lopsided design, institution and politics will always have as its baseline motive and reality the human suffering that is a shameful consequence of it all, he aspires to not lose track of that all too human reality in situating his work around infrastructures. In that direction, narrative ethnographies on the borderlines of literary non-fiction are a thing of great fascination for him.

He received PGR funding from the Graduate School for his research. His Lead Supervisor is Dr. Alex Loftus.

Pratik’s three Water Words:

Network

 

                                    Norms

 

                                                                        Non-neutral

 

For more about research opportunities with King’s Water, check out our website. To keep up to date, follow us on Twitter!

By students, with students and for students: Furthering the discussion on water security

Stemming from a series of discussions regarding the future of development and cooperation in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), King’s College London recently hosted a Water Security Workshop in partnership with the University of Oxford, the University of East Anglia and The Third Line development think tank.  This workshop was organised by students for students wanting to build networks and to develop a forum for water security discussions.

Kieran Lutton, a MSc Water: Science & Governance student and a member of the organising committee, reports on the event:

Our host at King’s was King’s Water, a wide scoped interdisciplinary group concerned with researching water, environment and development spanning social and physical sciences. I sat on the Workshop Organisational Committee as a King’s Water graduate student. Following an undergraduate degree in BSc Geography, I have been completing my MSc in Water: Science and Governance this past year, and developed a keen interest in water related issues regarding both their cause and management. In particular, my course has delved into the WANA region among other arid areas in detail, and opened my eyes to the important dynamics of cooperation and conflict in these locations.

The workshop focussed on the potential for connectivity models through life elements such as food, water and energy. Not only did the workshop draw upon talks by academics with years of experience in the transboundary water resources field (Dr Mark Zeitoun and Dr Tony Allan from UEA and King’s respectively), but also early career academics with a range of interests and opinions regarding water the WANA region. It was these talks that later facilitated wide ranging and valuable discussions contemplating the common challenges between agriculture and water security, before identifying gaps and opportunities for future water-energy-food cooperation.

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Kieran with other members of the organising committee and speakers

 

From my own perspective, the workshop provided an interesting way to solidify what I have learnt this year at King’s. Particularly in the working group discussions I was able to contribute to the task, discussing the importance of greater discourse and transparency between stakeholders, a regional strategy, and the ways in which both could be supported in the future. On the other hand, the varied talks – ranging from the use of water as a weapon in Syria to the potential of solar power as an alternative energy source to benefit irrigation – built upon my own knowledge in a way that also highlighted both the scale and complexity of the task at hand.

The demand for the establishment of an international platform supported by academics in the WANA region is evident; an international platform that raises awareness and technical capacity of the region while overcoming the food security and irrigation paradox that currently exists. With this in mind, we are interested in continuing the work that has been made to date, but in the meantime a full report on our opening workshop can be found below.

Download workshop report

 

Marking a decade and then some: Developments in transboundary water analysis

King’s Water has been an active partner of the London Water Research Group and over the years hosted numerous workshops and events. The London Water Research Group is a vibrant network of 100+ international water professionals, activists and scholars from over 10 countries dedicated to understanding and influencing transboundary water management, politics and policy. Spanning across multiple disciplines, the group has published key articles on the deeply political nature of water cooperation, governance, water security and the political economy of water use. From King’s Water, master’s, PhD students, researchers now in academic positions and professionals have been involved in the development of this international network.

Now the London Water Research Groups marks a milestone with members publishing a capstone paper “Transboundary ‘hydro-hegemony’: 10 years later” in the journal WIREs Water. The paper traces the establishment and progress of transboundary water analysis of the group, now often known as the ‘London School’, and discusses future directions for scholarship. Authors of the paper are: Jeroen Warner (Wageningen University); Naho Mirumachi (King’s Water, KCL); Rebecca L. Farnum (King’s Water, KCL); Mattia Grandi (Independent Researcher); Filippo Menga (University of Reading; former visiting student to King’s); Mark Zeitoun (University of East Anglia).

Previous publications of the London Water Research Group can be found here. Requests of copies of the paper in WIREs Water are welcome to Naho Mirumachi as well.

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Seeing water science and policy come together: Beth reflects on her trip to the Okavango

My name is Beth and I’m a MSc Water: Science and Governance student at the Department of Geography, King’s College London. I have just returned from an interdisciplinary fieldtrip to the Okavango Delta, Botswana, in partnership with the PLuS Alliance, which gave us the chance to work in collaboration with students and staff from UNSW Sydney and Arizona State University. I got to experience ‘the science’ part of environmental management in a different country’s context; conducting aquatic, riparian and terrestrial-based ecological surveys, collecting water quality data and learning a lot from the Australian students’ various ecology and biology backgrounds.

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The most enjoyable part of the trip for me, besides the stunning safari drives and elephants, was ‘the governance’ aspect of the trip. We held a debate over the opportunities and challenges of managing the Okavango river basin from the perspective of each basin state, after lectures from UNSW’s Dr Richard Kingsford about adaptive management and King’s Dr Naho Mirumachi on the role of power in transboundary governance. It was rewarding to hear the themes we had discussed then reflected in a guest talk from Dr Ebenizário Chonguiça from the Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM).

Throughout the trip, our group were introduced to many stakeholders in the river basin. I’m now in the process of developing a podcast of conversations with the members of Botswana Predator Conservation Trust and Elephants Without Borders, to a former farmer, member of the Kalahari Conservation Society and past Permanent Secretary of the Botswanan Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. It was great to learn about the river basin in situ, to get an insight into the effects of human development on the valuable wetland ecosystem, how these views of development are contested, and how we use science to monitor the effects. It has helped me to explore ideas for my dissertation next term, such as exploring the trade-offs between maintaining a free-flowing river system and seeking transboundary cooperation to share-benefits from the basin’s development.

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This research trip comes after another water-orientated experience where I worked with WWF-UK as their Freshwater Science and Policy intern for three months at the start of 2017. The internship really appealed to me as a parallel to the science and governance elements of my course at Kings. It gave me a working insight into how an international organisation uses fieldwork, research and multidisciplinary expertise to become a knowledge producer and leading authority on environmental issues, and go on to empower communities and influence policy makers. I assisted in researching for, and drafting a primer on water infrastructure, and gave a talk on the impact of dams in front of many delegates from other national and international organisations.

All these experiences in my first year as a part-time student at King’s have given me real insight into many current water issues and how these can be tackled in a future career in water. After working alongside world class water experts and academics, seeing science and policy come together whilst working at WWF-UK or seeing it in the field in Botswana, it has been inspiring. I hope to go on to work in a research or policy role that makes a difference on the ground to people and the environment, wherever in the world that may take me.

Student Profile: Mari Joins Okavango Field Project

Following the previous post on the Okavango field project, we’re introducing Mari, one of our mix of BA, BSc, MSc students joining the trip. We’ll be featuring more stories from student and from the field so keep checking on our blog as well as twitter @ KingsWaterKCL !

” I am a final year BA geography student from West Wales graduating this July. I have spent the majority of my three years at King’s trying to find a balance between the human and physical disciplines of the subject. My interests lie in the meeting point of social-political dynamics and the physical conditions they are situated within. I have particularly enjoyed the various political ecology and related modules available at King’s to further this interest.

Throughout my three years here I have found a real passion for research, particularly in the developing country context. Previous studies I have been involved in have included fieldwork in Kerala, India in the second year; as well as a self organised Royal Geographical Society part-funded research trip to Napo in Ecuador to collect dissertation data. These experiences of international research have provided me with valuable experiences of research and other cultures.

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My trip to the Okavango is funded by the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF) under the guidance of Dr. Naho Mirumachi.  It presents a final opportunity to get involved in an interdisciplinary study at King’s and hope to further my research experience with fieldwork in Okavango, Botswana.

I hope to better understand the dynamics of the river delta, including the socio-political structures that influence the river itself as well as development in the region. I also hope to benefit from working within an academic team, as well as in collaboration with students and lecturers from other universities across the world (Australia and the US) within the PLuSAlliance. Hopefully this fieldwork will result in the creation of a new truly interdisciplinary module for future students at King’s – something that I believe is vital to our subject. “

Setting off: Okavango field project for interdisciplinary learning

This month, King’s Water staff and students will travel to the Okavango delta in Botswana for an interdisciplinary project on river sustainability.  As part of the Global River Basins Connections project funded by the PLuS Alliance, a network between Kings, Univ of New South Wales and Arizona State Univ, this trip aims to enhance experiential learning on key issues of river basin management, water cooperation and conflict and human-ecosystem dependence.

The Okavango delta is a significant biodiversity hotspot as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The management of the river requires international cooperation with the river being shared between Botswana, Namibia and Angola.  This basin has also recently experienced drought, making the question of sustainability even more pressing.

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Students from the three universities will working together to practise various field sampling, survey skills and monitoring methods to understand the river and terrestrial environment as well as enhance their knowledge of river basin governance, development and geopolitics in this  transboundary setting.

From King’s Water, Dr Mike Chadwick, Dr Naho Mirumachi and Dr Emma Tebbs coordinates this trip to pilot an interdisciplinary fieldwork module for the Geography Department.  Six undergraduate and master’s students from the department have been selected on a competitive basis to join this trip.

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Video summary: King’s Water colleagues speak at St Paul’s Cathedral

Last month, King’s Water co-convened an event on water politics at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.  This event was part of JustWater, a series of activities by St Paul’s Institute to raise awareness about water issues.

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(Photo credit: Graham Lacdao)

From King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi spoke about the socio-economics and political power asymmetries that determine water use rather than the climate or hydrology.  Prof Tony Allan spoke about the critical role of farmers and consumers in ensuring water stewardship when food production is so dependant on managing water well.

The video of the event can be seen here.

 

King’s Water at St Paul’s Cathedral

King’s Water and St Paul’s Institute are hosting an event on water politics at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.

From King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi and Prof Tony Allan will be joining the debate.

This free event will take place 6:30-8:00 pm on Monday 19 June and is open to the general public.  Speakers will discuss the contentions as well as transformative potential of water management and stewardship, touching upon issues of geopolitics, climate, food and more.  This event is part of an initiative, ‘Just Water’ to raise awareness and activism around water.

Register here:

waterpoliticstickets.eventbrite.co.uk

Water Politics event flyer social media image

XVI World Water Congress

Four King’s Water doctoral researchers have just completed an interdisciplinary methods experiment in the Yucatan Peninsula. The trip included presentations at the XVI World Water Congress and the formation of a new institutional partnership with CICY, the Centre for the Scientific Study of the Yucatan.

King's Cancun team with CICY students  Continue reading

Spotlight on the MSc Water: Science and Governance programme

 

The MSc Water: Science and Governance programme draws on the university’s leading reputation in water research to equip students with advanced interdisciplinary training to tackle the contemporary challenges of diverse water environments around the world.

Combined with international research excellence in water science, policy and politics, the programme offers a unique learning experience as well as access to a range of professional networks which include government, industry and NGO sectors.  From academic year 2017-18, this programme will also incorporate the former MSc Aquatic Resource Management making it deeply rooted in King’s College London’s long-standing experience and expertise in providing in-depth fundamental and applied training in freshwater and estuarine science and management.

Students benefit from lectures, seminars, lab and field sessions informed by cutting-edge insights from King’s Water research spearheaded by 12 staff.  Key features of the MSc programme include a residential field trip in Shropshire and Wales, guest talks by leading scientists and professionals, weekly research seminars, internships and dissertation placement.  The London location also offers excellent opportunities for professional networking.  This year, students have attended meetings co-hosted by King’s Water and International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage, the British Ecological Society, the Institute for Fisheries Management; started internships with WWF-UK, at Harvard; and will take part in an interdisciplinary field project in the Okavango River basin, Botswana.

Applications for 2017-18 entry can be found here.

 

Students enjoying a meal with MSc Water alumna currently working in the water utility sector

Students enjoying a meal with MSc Water alumna currently working in the water utility sector