Student Spotlight November 2020: Mariam Zaqout

Our monthly spotlight on the work and lives of the next generation of water@leeds researchers.
This month we highlight Mariam Zaqout
PhD title: The Political Economy of Sanitation; driving incentives for more sustainable sanitation services in low and middle-income countries.
School of Civil Engineering
Supervisors: Prof Barbara Evans, Prof Anna Mdee, Dr Dani Barrington

Tell us a bit about yourself

I come from Gaza, Palestine where I completed my BSc in Environmental Engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza. After one year of working with private consulting in urban and environmental planning I received a Chevening Scholarship to further my studies here at Leeds and completed an MSc of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Engineering.

Why did you choose University of Leeds?

My MSc experience at Leeds was outstanding, I enjoyed and learnt a lot from all the modules I have taken and was inspired by the dedicated academics at the school. Conducting qualitative empirical WASH research during my MSc degree was very rewarding experience that made me keen to further  my research here at Leeds. I received extensive support from the School members throughout the whole research process, check this link to know more about my MSc study.

What is your research about?

I research the political economy of sanitation services and specifically the incentives of sanitation stakeholders to provide to fund/allocate resources to sanitation services. The research examines how the characteristics of public services such as sanitation influence the incentives of the stakeholders to fund it. It then reflects on the financing gaps and sustainability issues created as a result of these incentives. The research eventually aims to challenge these incentives in a given context in order to plan for a sustainable allocation of funds across the various sanitation services.

What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD?

The PhD is never a straightforward game. You will need to have the resilience to keep trying new ideas, abandon or refine existing ones and just keep learning and listening to people talking about your topic from totally different points of views.

What are your aims for the future?

I aim to stay in a place where, either in academia or practice, I can influence policy making towards equitable and sustainable water and sanitation services especially for the most vulnerable around the globe.

Follow Mariam on twitter here.