REACH : Improving Water Security for the Poor


The University of Oxford is collaborating with the University of Nairobi through the ICCA in the 2015 launched ‘REACH: Improving Water Security for the Poor’ research programme.  The programme will run over a seven year period, covering selected regions/countries in Africa and Asia. The main aim of the programme  is to build and effectively communicate the knowledge, needed to achieve and sustain water security for 5 million people.

The project is being led by Dr Robert Hope of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and in Kenya by Prof. Daniel Olago of the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, University of Nairobi.

The programme aims to answer the overarching question of how water security can be achieved sustainably at different scales in varying geographic environments for the benefit of the poor, focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The direction taken is a holistic approach focusing on the whole water system and brings together a spectrum of different disciplines to address these challenges.  The expected impact will be that efficient and sustainably managed water systems will support increased water security for over 2.5 million poor people, whilst helping sustain and preserve water resources.  It is intended that the programme will deliver robust and accessible evidence on how to ensure sustainable water services for multiple users in developing countries at scale. The evidence will be  presented in a way that municipalities, rural water suppliers, governments, DFID and other investment/policy decision-makers can use to improve water security for poor people, and to better understand the costs-benefits and trade-offs associated with investment decisions. The result will be that as key policies and investment decisions are developed; they better take into account the water resources available and any impacts these decisions may have on other users.


The programme is sponsored by the UK Department for International Development (DfID).

Principle Investigator
Dr. Rob Hope - REACH Programme Director; Kenya Country Director, Prof. D. Olago

REACH is a global research programme to improve water security for the poor by delivering world-class science that transforms policy and practice.

Living in poverty often means a struggle for water security. Rapid urban growth, unregulated pollution from industry, extreme floods and droughts, lack of reliable and safe drinking water, and increasing damage to water ecosystems threaten economies and undermine the lives of the poor.

Improving water security is an important pathway to sustainable growth and poverty reduction. However, better evidence is needed to guide institutional and infrastructure investments which unlock growth opportunities and help people move out of poverty.

The REACH programme will improve water security for over five million poor people by:

  • generating new evidence on water security through an innovative, interdisciplinary, risk-based approach
  • establishing science, practitioner and enterprise partnerships to ground research in approaches that will benefit the poor
  • building capacity and networks for the next generation of water managers and scientists in Africa and South Asia.
Project Status