skip to primary navigationskip to content

Centre for Sustainable Development

Est 2000 - home of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

Studying at Cambridge


2019 Dr Elisabeth Liddle

Elisabeth graduated from her Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) in 2012 and her Master of Science (Geography) in 2014, both of which were undertaken at the University of Otago, New Zealand. While an undergraduate, Elisabeth developed a strong interest in the interaction between the natural environment and the impacts of this on livelihoods in developing nations. From this stemmed her Masters research, in which she looked at the spatial variability of surface water and groundwater quality in Ndola, Zambia, and the impact of these variations on community wellbeing. Here she witnessed the complexities and challenges that lie within the system that is water provision sub-Saharan Africa, realising that the challenges behind groundwater provision are not simply technical, but rather social, financial and institutional factors also play important roles in determining whether individuals receive safe and adequate quantities of drinking water.

A key issue within this system is water point failure, this being the system that Elisabeth analysed within her PhD. Failure rates have remained stubbornly high in sub-Saharan Africa for the past 40 years, and while multiple reasons for failure are known, there is a lack of viable solutions to holistically address these failures. Moving away from linear thinking of cause and effect, Elisabeth’s PhD is looked at the feedback mechanisms within the system of water point construction and management, focusing on the causal links between the technical, social, financial and institutional factors within this system. Her PhD aims to identify the areas within this that have the greatest control over water point functionality, thus those that offer the highest points of leverage in future policy decisions, all with the aim of reducing the rate of borehole failure within sub-Saharan Africa.

Elisabeth was jointly funded by the Rutherford Foundation of New Zealand and the Cambridge Trust.

RSS Feed Latest news

Post-Doctoral Job Opportunity at the CSD (closes 17th May 2021)

Apr 27, 2021

Post-Doctoral Position to Investigate System Dynamic Modelling of the Water-Land-Energy Nexus

To what extent will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the delivery of the SDGs?

Mar 11, 2021

Dick Fenner and Tom Cernev address this question in a new paper recently published in Futures in March 2021 (which can be accessed at:

Building Back Sustainably in a Deeper Shade of Green - article featuring ESD Lecturer Dr Kristen MacAskill

Feb 04, 2021

ESD Lecturer Dr Kristen MacAskill has been featured by Turner and Townsend as part of their 'Perspectives' series, speaking about the disruption of the pandemic and the challenge of building sustainability and resilience into the recovery.

Current State of Sustainability in Civil Engineering - Blog entry by Dick Fenner

Feb 02, 2021

Read Dick Fenner's blog entry on the current state of sustainability in civil engineering at the Institution of Civil Engineer's website, where Dick explores explores progress towards sustainability in the UK construction sector.

View all news