Bruce Lankford

Systems & people-centred water and irrigation

Research interests and themes

I have worked in and studied agricultural water management since 1983, initially at the irrigation system level in Swaziland but more recently on livelihood, institutional and basin approaches to the governance of water.

I study 17 interrelated themes of research, grouped thematically here:

Participatory polycentric water governance and allocation

  1. Dynamic irrigation systems and river basins in semi-arid environments via a non-equilibrium lens.
  2. Polycentric river basin/water management and user participation, critiquing the design of IWRM applied to river basins in Sub-Saharan Africa
  3. Serious games and deliberative tools in the management and allocation of water (the river basin game and multi-agent spreadsheets for water allocation).
  4. On being a waterist.

Resource efficiency complexity and the paracommons

  1. Irrigation efficiency and productivity measurement and theorising.
  2. The paracommons; a commons of (yet to be) conserved resources.

Irrigation infrastructure, livelihoods and policy

  1. Sub-Sahara irrigation policy to expand and rehabilitate irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Irrigation livelihoods studies including LADDER work and consultancy in Kyrgyzstan on water user associations.
  3. User-centred design of irrigation and basin systems for water apportionment (my doctoral research).
  4. Irrigationalism and irrigationism. On the ideology of irrigation engineering, expansion and rehabilitation.
  5. Hydromentalities. On fashions in the architecture of existing and new river basin and irrigation infrastructure.

Ecosystem and vector water studies

  1. Science of water and ecosystems services within irrigated river basins (NERC- funded ‘ESPA’ project in South Africa examined trade-offs and interfaces between wetlands and irrigated agriculture).
  2. Environmental demand management of ecological water resources to sustain or increase productivity in that sector
  3. Vector water. A set of ideas around how blue water might support green water.
  4. Water-energy-food nexus. Interrelationships between different sectors.

Performance, equity and justice in water security and allocation

  1. Incodys Water Security framework.
  2. Transboundary water law, in particular the principle of equitable allocation defined in the UN Watercourses convention, on water allocation.
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