Welcome to our new Marie Curie Skłodowska Research Fellow!

King’s Water recently welcomed a new post-doctoral research fellow with the support of the Marie Curie Skłodowska actions – Research Fellowship Programme. Maria Rusca previously taught at our partner institution UNESCO-IHE. Maria brings to King’s expertise in urban water governance and sanitation focused on southern and central Africa.

Maria Rusca

From Maria:

I specialise in the dynamics of water and sanitation service provision in urban spaces in the global South. I have undertaken most of my research in Lilongwe (Malawi) and Maputo (Mozambique), but also had the change to work in Kampala (Uganda), and Kumasi (Kenia). I am interested in the role of development aid in the delivery of wash services in urban areas, the politics of socio-technical urban water supply systems and the socio-ecological processes shaping the urban waterscape. Cognisant of the needs of policy makers and practitioners for solutions that work, I aim at bringing research findings into engagement with development establishment and explore implications of findings for policy and practice.

I hold an MA in Political Science (2002), a PhD in Contemporary History from University Roma Tre (2009) and an MSc in Water Management from UNESCO-IHE (2009). My first academic position was at UNESCO-IHE, where I worked as a (Senior) Lecturer in Water Governance and participated in international multidisciplinary research projects, capacity development initiatives and technical assistance programmes, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. I was Principal Investigator of a research project titled UNHIDE (Uncovering Hidden Dynamics in Slum Environments), dealing with informality and gendered water supply in Lilongwe and Maputo. At UNESCO-IHE I was exposed to colleagues and students with very diverse backgrounds and professional experiences, engaging with water management from different disciplinary perspectives. This triggered my interest in developing innovative methodologies for investigating socio-natural processes in urban spaces in an interdisciplinary way.

Currently I work as a Marie Curie Skłodowska Research Fellow at King’s College on a project titled Investigating Natural, Historical and Institutional Transformations in Cities (INHAbIT-Cities). The project has three main aims, which combine theoretical, methodological and empirical elements: undertake a theoretical synthesis that brings urban political ecology perspectives into engagement with institutional bricolage; explore and test innovative methodologies for tracking informality and investigating socio-natural processes; undertake empirical work and build up a robust body of rigorously researched historical and qualitative data on natural, historical and institutional transformations that have shaped and continuously re-shape water service realities in Lilongwe (Malawi) and Maputo (Mozambique).

Maria’s Publications:

Peer-reviewed journals

  • When U., Rusca M., Evers J. and Lanfranchi V. (2015), Participation in flood risk management and the potential of citizen observatories: A governance analysis, Environmental Science & Policy, in press.
  • Schwartz, K., Tutusaus Luque M., Rusca M. and Ahlers R., (In)formality: the meshwork of water service provisioning, WIREs Water 2015, 2:31–36.
  • Rusca M. and Schwartz, K., (2014) ‘Going with the grain’: accommodating local institutions in water governance, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 11:34–38.
  • Rusca, M., Schwartz K., Hadzovic, L., Ahlers R., (2014), “Adapting Generic Models through Bricolage: Elite Capture of Water Users Associations in Peri-urban Lilongwe.” European Journal of Development Research, European Journal of Development Research advance online publication 30 October 2014; doi: 10.1057/ejdr.2014.58.
  • Ahlers R., Cleaver F., Rusca, M., Schwartz K., (2014), Informal space in the urban waterscape: Disaggregation and co-production of water services Water Alternatives 7(1): 1-14.
  • Ahlers, R., Perez Güida, V., Rusca, M. and Schwartz, K. (2013), ‘Unleashing Entrepreneurs or Controlling Unruly Providers? The Formalisation of Small-scale Water Providers in Greater Maputo, Mozambique’, Journal of Development Studies, Volume 49, Issue 4, 470 – 482.
  • Rusca, M. and Schwartz, K. (2012), ‘From Passive Recipient to Empowered Client? The Changing Role of Water Consumers’, Environmental Engineering and Management Journal, 11(5), pp. 991-997.
  • Rusca, M., Heun, J. and Schwartz, K. (2012), ‘Water Management Simulation Games and the Construction of Knowledge’, Hydrolology and Earth System Sciences, 16, pp. 2749-2757.
  • Rusca, M. and Schwartz, K. (2012), ‘Divergent Sources of Legitimacy: A Case Study of International NGOs in the Water Services Sector in Lilongwe and Maputo’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 38(3), pp. 681-697.
  • Rusca M. (2007), La campagna contro gli herero nell’Africa sud-occidentale tedesca, Mondo Contemporaneo, year 3, n. 3, pp. 112 – 152.

Publications: Books and Book Chapters

  • Rusca, M. Simoncelli, Hydro war, Geopolitica dell’acqua tra guerra e cooperazione, (Hydro war – Geopolitics of Water between Conflicts and Co-operation), Roma, Ediesse: 2004.
  • Rusca, M. and Schwartz, K. (2012), ‘Changes in Partnerships on WSS services from 1970s to 2010’, in: Katko, T., Juuti, P. and Schwartz, K. (eds.), Water Services Management and Governance: Past Lessons for a Sustainable Future, London: IWA Publishing.




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