Maria Rusca

Maria Rusca
The University of Manchester · School of Environment and Development

PhD

About

54
Publications
31,861
Reads
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1,590
Citations
Citations since 2016
42 Research Items
1531 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - September 2015
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education
Position
  • Senior Lecturer in Water Governance
Education
October 2007 - May 2009
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education
Field of study
  • Water Management
November 2005 - July 2009
Università Degli Studi Roma Tre
Field of study
  • Contemporary History and International Relations
November 1997 - June 2002
Università Degli Studi Roma Tre
Field of study
  • Political Science

Publications

Publications (54)
Article
In this reply to Thaler (2022), we take the opportunity to discuss two main aspects from his piece to continue the discussion: 1) the integration of social and natural sciences data, and 2) the importance of transdisciplinary research. We agree, and highlight that necessary learning, reflections and participation processes are time-intensive for re...
Article
Full-text available
This paper conceptualises droughts as socioecological phenomena coproduced by the recursive engagement of human and non-human transformations. Through an interdisciplinary approach that integrates political ecology, material geographies and hydroclimatology, this work simultaneously/home/ene apprehends the role of politics and power in reshaping dr...
Preprint
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Economic inequality is rising within many countries globally, and this can significantly influence social vulnerability to natural hazards. Through a global analysis of income inequality and flood disasters in middle- and high-income countries, we show that unequal countries tend to suffer higher flood fatalities. Based on our results, we argue tha...
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Human activities have increasingly intensified the severity, frequency, and negative impacts of droughts in several regions across the world. This trend has led to broader scientific conceptualizations of drought risk that account for human actions and their interplays with natural systems. This review focuses on physical and engineering sciences t...
Article
In this reply we thank both authors for their thoughtful insights on our original opinion piece “Guiding principles for hydrologists conducting interdisciplinary research and fieldwork with participants.” We believe these discussions will help to inspire and guide current and future researchers and illustrate how to continue to bring together physi...
Article
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Inequalities in conditions of access to water are emblematic of contemporary urban life and have long been at the center of urban scholarship. This paper considers the theoretical and empirical potential of a focus on the everyday as a contribution to critical urban water studies. Drawing on research in Political Ecology and Critical Institutionali...
Article
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The severe impact of global crises, such as COVID-19 and climate change, is plausibly reshaping the way in which people perceive risks. In this paper, we examine and compare how global crises and local disasters influence public perceptions of multiple hazards in Italy and Sweden. To this end, we integrate information about the occurrence of hazard...
Preprint
Full-text available
There are growing concerns about the impacts of climate change on equitable urban development. As cities are becoming increasingly exposed to anthropogenic droughts, stakes are particularly high in contexts of severe vulnerability. Yet, the impacts of future urban droughts and the societal responses they will elicit remain poorly understood. Here w...
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In this article we draw on an interdisciplinary study on drinking water quality in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, to examine the nature, scale, and politics of waterborne diseases. We show how water contamination and related diseases are discursively framed as household risks, thereby concealing the politics of uneven exposure to contaminated w...
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Predicting floods and droughts is essential to inform the development of policy in water management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Yet, hydrological predictions are highly uncertain, while the frequency, severity and spatial distribution of extreme events are further complicated by the increasing impact of human activities...
Preprint
Full-text available
The severe impact of global crises, such as COVID-19 and climate change, is plausibly reshaping the way in which people perceive risks. In this paper, we examine and compare how global crises and local disasters influence public perceptions of multiple hazards in Italy and Sweden. To this end, we integrate information about the occurrence of hazard...
Article
Full-text available
In a rapidly changing world, what is today an unprecedented extreme may soon become the norm. As a result, extreme-related disasters are expected to become more frequent and intense. This will have widespread socio-economic consequences and affect the ability of different societal groups to recover from and adapt to rapidly changing environmental c...
Article
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The sustainability of large dams has been questioned on several grounds. One aspect that has been less explored is that the development of dams and reservoirs often enables agricultural expansion and urban growth, which in turn increase water consumption. As such, dam development influences, while being influenced by, the spatial and temporal distr...
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This study presents a global explanatory analysis of the interplay between the severity of flood losses and human presence in floodplain areas. In particular, we relate economic losses and fatalities caused by floods during 1990‐2000, with changes in human population and built‐up areas in floodplains during 2000‐2015 by exploiting global archives....
Article
As engines of economic growth and pollution hotspots, cities have been cited as a prime opportunity to address a host of environmental grand challenges. Yet action taken is not always universally beneficial, and inequalities are spiraling. This Voices seeks to uncover the heterogeneity of urban inequality and identify necessary actions for a fairer...
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Sociohydrology has advanced understandings of water related phenomena by conceptualizing changes in hydrological flows and risks as the result of the interplay between water and society. However, social power and the heterogeneity of human societies, which are crucial to unravel the feedback mechanisms underlying human-water systems, have not been...
Article
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Knowing how people perceive multiple risks is essential to the management and promotion of public health and safety. Here we present a dataset based on a survey (N = 4,154) of public risk perception in Italy and Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both countries were heavily affected by the first wave of infections in Spring 2020, but their govern...
Article
To explore and address complex water-related issues, true collaborative, interdisciplinary research at the interface of hydrology and social science is necessary. Accordingly, hydrologists are increasingly working with social sciences and becoming involved in fieldwork with participants. With the overarching aim of facilitating collaboration and in...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Water is at the core of many current and future global challenges, which involve hydrological, technical and social processes. Therefore, successful interdisciplinary research on how water-related issues interact with human activities, actions and responses is increasingly important. Qualitative data and diverse perspectives provide much-needed inf...
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Global floodplain mapping has rapidly progressed over the past few years. Different methods have been proposed to identify areas prone to river flooding, resulting in a plethora of available products. Here we assess the potential and limitations of two main paradigms and provide guidance on the use of these global products in assessing flood risk i...
Article
Full-text available
Global floodplain mapping has rapidly progressed over the past few years. Different methods have been proposed to identify areas prone to river flooding, resulting in a plethora of available products. Here we assess the potential and limitations of two main paradigms and provide guidance on the use of these global products in assessing flood risk i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract. Global floodplain mapping has rapidly progressed over the past few years. Different methods have been proposed to identify areas prone to flooding, resulting into a plethora of freely available products. Here we assess the potential and limitations of two main paradigms, and provide guidance on the use of these global products in assessin...
Article
Full-text available
Poor quality onsite sanitation causes drinking water contamination and diseases in cities in sub-Saharan Africa. In this article, we consider to what extent regulation reduces onsite sanitation-related health and environmental risks. We examined regulatory standards and how they are enforced in Greater Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Standards f...
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In light of recent calls for an increased commitment to interdisciplinary endeavors, this paper reflects on the implications of a critical geography of water that crosses social and natural sciences. Questions on how to best research the relationship between water and society have been raised both in the field of critical geographies of water and s...
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030 represent an ambitious blueprint to reduce inequalities globally and achieve a sustainable future for all mankind. Meeting the SDGs for water requires an integrated approach to managing and allocating water resources, by involving all actors and stakeholders, and considering...
Article
Recent scholarship has called for widening investigations of cities through the analysis of everyday practices that shape urban life. Critical water studies have contributed to this emerging debate by using an everyday lens to document the diversity of practices of accessing and distributing water. Thus far, little attention has been given to the e...
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Target 7c of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 7c) aimed to halve the population that had no sustainable access to water and basic sanitation before 2015. According to the data collected by the Joint Monitoring Programme in charge of measuring progress towards MDG 7c, 2.6 billion people gained access to safe water and 2.3 billion people to basi...
Article
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Many African towns and cities face a range of hazards, which can best be described as representing a “spectrum of risk” of events that can cause death, illness or injury, and impoverishment. Yet despite the growing numbers of people living in African urban centres, the extent and relative severity of these different risks is poorly understood. This...
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This article explores the role of large-scale water infrastructure in the formation of states in sub-Saharan Africa. We examine this through a focus on government agents and their shifting hydro-developmental visions of the state in colonial and post-colonial Mozambique. Over time, the focus, underlying principles and goals of the hydraulic mission...
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Urban scholars have long proposed moving away from a conceptualisation of infrastructure as given and fixed material artefacts to replace it with one that makes it the very object of theorisation and explanation. Yet, very few studies have seriously investigated the role of infrastructure in co-shaping and mediating inequities. We use this paper to...
Article
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Improved water safety management, as addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals, can be aided by Water Safety Planning, a risk-assessment and risk-management approach introduced by the World Health Organization and implemented to date in 93 countries around the globe. Yet, this approach still encounters some challenges in practice, including th...
Chapter
Introduction The launch of the Water and Sanitation Decade (1980-90) marked the first attempt to place urban sanitation within national governments and international organizations’ development agendas. Since then, inclusion of sanitation within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and global campaigns s...
Article
Visual methods are becoming increasingly popular in social sciences, but are still little explored when it comes to water related studies. Drawing on literature on visual methods and documentary filmmaking, this paper reflects on the role and potential of videography to capture and visualize inequalities in urban water supply and access. The paper...
Article
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Urban political ecology attempts to unravel and politicize the socio-ecological processes that produce uneven waterscapes. At the core of this analysis are the choreographies of power that influence how much water flows through urban infrastructure as well as where it flows, thereby shaping conditions and quality of access in cities. If these analy...
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There is an increasing recognition of the need to understand and address risks of various kinds in African cities. However, there have been very few explicit examinations of the way in which the specific characteristics of African urbanisation and urbanism drive risk, or the way in which responses to risk should take these characteristics into acco...
Article
Hygiene plays a key role in tipping the balance towards reduction of diarrhoeal and other infectious diseases. Yet it has often been overlooked, positioned as a “supporting rider” of water supply and sanitation services, or narrowly understood as handwashing. By focusing on handwashing infrastructure as proposed for the monitoring of Sustainable De...
Article
Over the past decades ‘water for all’ has become a dominant development mantra, illustrated by global strategies like the Millennium Development Goals (2000–2015) and the Sustainable Development Goals (2015–2030). Cost-recovering tariffs have been placed at the core of these strategies on the grounds that they warrant more inclusive water services...
Article
In this article, we analyze the production of inequalities within the centralized water supply network of Lilongwe. We use a process-based analysis to understand how urban infrastructure is made to work and explain the disparity in levels of service by tracing the everyday practices of those who operate the infrastructure. This extends existing ana...
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Taking issue with how associations between technical prowess or entrepreneurship and masculinity tend to be taken for granted or are seen as stemming from natural or intrinsic gender differences, over the last two decades feminist scholars have developed theoretical approaches to understand the gendering of professions and abilities as the performa...
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Over past decades strategies for improving access to drinking water in cities of the Global South have mainly focused on increasing coverage, while water quality has often been overlooked. This paper focuses on drinking water quality in the centralised water supply network of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. It shows how microbial contamination of...
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In the aspiration to upscale their activities in the global South, development aid agencies have a tendency to design and implement generic models. These are often associated with desired characteristics and principles, such as participation or inclusion of the poorest. However, in the dynamic environment in which models are implemented, the design...
Article
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The implementation of the European Flood Directive 2007/60/EC requires the establishment of public participation mechanisms to ensure citizens’ involvement in the flood management cycle. This raises questions on how to achieve this goal and successfully translate the directive into meaningful and effective participation. Innovative means, such as c...
Article
Cities in developing countries have for many decades been characterized by the co-existence of different service provision modalities. These modalities usually include a formal water utility and an array of small-scale private or community-based service providers. In recent years, the topic of informality in water provisioning has been subject to a...
Article
Development agencies have often adhered to standardized models for interventions in the water sector of developing countries. The assumption is that the model and the associated institutions will substitute existing institutions. This approach has been criticized on the grounds that prevailing institutions are a mix of traditional and modern arrang...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
: The implementation of the European Flood Directive 2007/60/EC requires the establishment of public participation mechanisms to ensure citizens’ involvement in the flood management cycle. This raises questions on how to achieve this goal and successfully translate the directive into meaningful and effective participation. Innovative means, such as...
Article
Full-text available
This special issue explores the realities of water provision in 'informal' urban spaces located in different parts of the world through eight empirical, case-based papers. The collection of articles shows that formality and informality are fluid concepts that say more about the authority to legitimate certain practices than describe the condition o...
Article
The existing legal and policy framework regulating water service provision in Greater Maputo, Mozambique appears fixated on the official service areas. In doing so it inadequately addresses the geographically varied service provision modalities which characterise the city. We argue that the predominant legal and policy framework does little to supp...
Article
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Since the 1980s international development activities have increasingly been transferred from government organisations to International Non Government Organisations (INGOs). In this article we argue that the trend for NGOs to increasingly undertake government-funded tasks leads to conflicts between the different sources on which the legitimacy of th...
Article
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In recent years simulations have become an important part of teaching activities. The reasons behind the popularity of simulation games are twofold. On the one hand, emerging theories on how people learn have called for an experienced-based learning approach. On the other hand, the demand for water management professionals has changed. Three import...
Article
The traditional paradigm promoting government responsibility for providing water services has, in practice, translated into a strongly supply-driven approach. With the onset of neo-liberalism and increasing prominence of social movements, this supply-driven approach is argued to be outdated and in need of replacement by a more demand-driven approac...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years simulations have become an important part of teaching activities. The reasons behind the popularity of simulation games are twofold. On the one hand, emerging theories on how people learn have called for an experienced-based learning approach. On the other hand, the demand for water management professionals has changed. Three import...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
This research project explored service provision realities by examining informal spaces in the urban waterscape in Lilongwe, Malawi, and Maputo, Mozambique. It addressed three interrelated themes: 1. Gendering of professions and water provision While gendered access to water and sanitation services has been object of several studies, very little is known about gendered roles and labor in (in)formal water business. We examined how associations between masculinities, technology and entrepreneurship shape ideas and practices of small-scale water provision. 2. Everyday practices of water provisioning and infrastructural configurations This line of inquiry considered the potential of a focus on the everyday to capture hybrid arrangements governing water access and distribution. We examined how everyday practices of operation and maintenance and infrastructural configurations intersect in the production of uneven water flows in the city. 3. The sanitationscape: infrastructural configurations, production of uneven contamination and hygiene This line of inquiry focused on everyday risks in the urban waterscape. We mapped hygiene practices in areas served by water kiosks and suffering from high rates of water discontinuity and examined the relationship between infrastructure deficits, water shortages, everyday coping strategies and uneven water contamination in urban spaces. Funding: UNHIDE was funded by UNESCO-IHE Partnership Research Fund (UPaRF) Partner Organisations: EDUARDO MONDLANE, CHANCELLOR COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM, VITENS EVIDES INTERNATIONAL. Partner Projects: INHAbIT Cities
Project
PROJECT SUMMARY Every year, more than 100 million people are affected by droughts or floods and the potentially negative effects of climatic and socio-economic changes are likely to exacerbate these risks (UN-ISDR, 2016). It is, therefore, essential to realistically capture where, how and why hydrological risk will plausibly change in the coming decade. HydroSocialExtremes aims to unravel the dynamics of risk emerging from the mutual shaping of hydrological extremes and society by developing models that explain the interplay of hydrological extremes and society, identifying the social and hydrological conditions in which certain dynamics tend to emerge and by unravelling the role of institutional change in long-term trajectories of hydrological risk. Building on socio-hydrology, this project conceptualises risk as feedbacks between society and hydrological extremes such as droughts and floods (Figure 1). Theoretical and empirical work is carried out by the PI Giuliano Di Baldassarre and an interdisciplinary team, working to integrate dynamic modelling, global data sets and selected case studies. The project is funded under H2020-EU.1.1. - EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC).  PROJECT TEAM Giuliano Di Baldassarre - I focus on droughts and floods in changing environments. I am fascinated by the interplay of water and society, and I explore the dynamics and risks generated by feedback mechanisms between physical, technical and social processes. Maria Rusca – I focus on interdisciplinary studies on urban water inequalities, including the politics of water, urban informality, gendered water supply, large water infrastructures and hydrological extremes in various geographical contexts and at different scales. Elisa Savelli - My research aims to provide an integrated understanding of the mutual shaping between hydrological extremes and society by historically and spatially retracing water and society dynamics within specific and instrumental case studies. Elena Mondino - My PhD research, in affiliation with CNDS, aims at understanding how disaster risk perception changes over time, with a focus on flood risk. Sara Andersson - PhD student in Environmental Analysis, exploring socio-hydrological patterns on a global scale. Maurizio Mazzoleni - My research focuses on human-flood-drought interactions using global datasets and advanced modelling tools like system dynamics and Agent Based Models. Elena Ridolfi - My research focuses on hydrological extreme events. I am interested in investigating the mutual feedback between society and extreme events aiming at mitigating floods and droughts risk. Hannah Cloke - My work centres on improving preparedness for natural hazards and disaster risk management through modelling the earth system. I work on developing early warning systems, particularly for floods, droughts and other weather driven natural hazards. Vincent Odongo - My main research ambition is to contribute to a water secure society. To realize this, I focus on understanding how human actions on land through socio-economic developments and land use changes modify (un)knowingly, the hydrological regime. Johanna Mård -Researcher in water and climate, with emphasis on interactions between water-human-ecosystem responses to environmental change
Project
The overall aim of INHAbIT is to improve understandings of the dynamics of water service provision in urban environments in the global South. In particular, INHAbIT will explore historical processes and transformations that have shaped water service configurations, the politics of socio-technical urban water supply systems and the socio-ecological processes shaping the urban waterscape. INHAbIT is innovative in that it takes an interdisciplinary approach and aims at developing new methodologies and conceptual approaches. To this aim, INHAbIT has identified three objectives, 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). While taking a critical approach, INHAbIT is also cognizant of the needs of policy makers and practitioners for solutions that work for serving with adequate water a growing population. INHAbIT will explore the implications of research findings for policy and practice and disseminate accordingly. INHAbIT, thus, will be both scientifically innovative and policy relevant.