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Recirculate: Driving Eco-Innovation In Africa: Capacity Building For A Safe Circular Water Economy 

Project Duration: 2017-2021
Grantor: Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), UK
Principal Investigator: Prof. Nigel Paul, Lancaster University, UK
ATPS Co-Investigator: Dr Nicholas Ozor, Executive Director, ATPS, Kenya
Project Value: GBP 6.8 million

Project Description/Background

The Lancaster University, UK through its double award-winning Centre for Global Eco-innovation (GCE) aims to support high quality research partnerships with an aim of establishing the systems necessary to move from research to solutions and support the long-term transition from a resource to a knowledge based economy. Lancaster University is well known for translating high quality research into real world impacts. RECIRCULATE is funded by Research Councils UK through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) which has the stated aim of “Growing Research Capability to Meet the Challenges Faced by Developing Countries”. In that sense, RECIRCULATE is quite different from many traditional research projects.  While there is a clear research focus on a circular water economy there is also a broader underpinning aim to support new partnership-based approaches to enable African researchers and research institutions to grow transformational impact through (i) working with, in and for their communities and (ii) developing robust, durable and equitable partnerships with UK researchers. That aim certainly applies to water research but we see it as relevant to all disciplines and sectors if research is to underpin sustainable and equitable growth.  

In a report by the African Bank (2014), “On the Wings of Change” and the Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa STISA-2024 Strategy, about 50% of Africans live in areas without adequate water and this number is expected to rise to 800 million people by 2025. Additionally, 80% of African population lives in the rural areas and 96% of African agriculture is dependent on rainfall. Africa’s urban pollution is also exploding at a faster rate, the domestic energy which comes from biomass (firewood) is at 94% and 90% of the natural disasters are climate-related. A safer circular water will be the focus on this project.

The project will be implemented through research and training which will be delivered in UK and Africa. Phase one Partners include: University of Benin, Nigeria; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ghana and Lancaster University, Ghana Campus. Phase two partners are: Botswana International University of Science and Technology, African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), National Commission for Science and Technology Malawi; and Copperbelt University, Zambia.

More details about the RECIRCULATE project are available online at:

 Key Objectives and Activities

  • To understand how African eco-innovation systems work, how they differ from European models, and what new innovations would be needed to achieve SDGs 8 and 13.
  • To grow the capacity and capability in Africa’s eco-innovation community by developing and promoting new innovations through better-skilled people
  • To establish African research organizations as ‘anchor’ institutions that drive and sustain change.
  • To enable African researchers to co-design ambitious eco-innovation projects aimed at delivering a safe circular water economy for Africa
  • To develop a long-term strategy to maintain and expand the scope and remit of the UK, Africa knowledge transfer on eco-innovation for achieving SDGs.

Project Outputs

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