Michelle Kooy

Associate Professor of Water Governance


Michelle Kooy is an Associate Professor of the Politics of Urban Water at IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education. Her research is concerned with how inequalities in access to water and exposure to water related risks in and across urban spaces are mediated through water infrastructure. Theorizing the politics of water infrastructure from the global south she decenters the role of centralized networks in her analysis, focusing instead on the ways in which urban water systems are connected through a range of practices and technologies, and how these simultaneously social, technical, and ecological connections shape the uneven distribution of water and related risks within urban spaces and across rural/urban boundaries.

Her current projects on urban water inequalities in cities of Arusha (Tanzania), Kampala (Uganda); Jakarta, Indonesia; and Maputo (Mozambique) analyze the politics of the urban water cycle to ask how existing interactions between wastewater, piped water, groundwater, surface water are made, and how evenly the costs and benefits are spread across society. This also entails a concern with the politics of knowledge production on urban water issues: identifying where explanatory frameworks for urban water problems come from, the power relations embedded within their assumptions, and their accuracy in explaining dynamics of urban water supply cities of the South.

Through her role as Coordinator for the IHE Graduate School in Water & Development, and lecturer in the MSc Programme on Water Governance she encourages PhD and MSc students to question where knowledge comes from and to attend to the social relations within water infrastructure systems. Michelle is currently supervising 4 PhD fellows: Bosman Batubara, Adriano Biza, Christine Etiegni, and Natalia Reyes-Tejada.

Michelle is cross-appointed to the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and is an Associate Editor of the international multi-disciplinary review journal WIRES-Water.


Research Summary

Current research projects include:

Hydro-social Deltas: Understanding flows of water and people in Bangladesh and the Netherlands (2014-2018, funded by NWO/WOTRO Urbanizing Deltas)

Sustainable Freshwater supply in Maputo, Mozambique: Developing inclusive and sustainable urban water and sanitation systems for the city of Maputo (2015-2019, funded by NWO/WOTRO Urbanizing Deltas)

T-Group: Experimenting with practical transition groundwater management strategies for the urban poor in Sub Saharan Africa (2015-2019) (funded by NERC/DFID)

Waterspoutt: Water Sustainable Point-Of-Use Treatment Technologies (2016-2020) Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Actions 


Selected publications

Batubara, Kooy, and Zwarteveen (2018) Uneven Urbanisation: Connecting flows of water to flows of people and capital through Jakarta's flood infrastructureAntipode https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12401

Rusca, Alda, and Kooy (2018) Sanitation Justice? Addressing the multiple dimensions of urban sanitation inequalities, book chapter in Water Justice, eds. Boelens, Perrault, Vos. Cambridge University Press.

Furlong and Kooy (2017) Worlding Water Supply: Rethinking beyond the network in Jakarta. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 41(6): 888-903.

Alda, C., Kooy, M., Rusca, M. (2017) Mapping operation and maintenance: an everyday urbanism analysis of inequalities within piped water supply in Lilongwe, Malawi. Urban Geography  (download open access version here)

Walter, Kooy, and Prabaharyaka (2017) The role of bottled drinking water in achieving SDG 6.1: An analysis of affordability and equity from Jakarta, Indonesia. International Journal of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

Zwarteveen, Kemerink-Seyoum, Kooy, Evers, Acevedo-Guerrero, Batubara, Faber, Flamini, Boakye-Ansah, Faber, Flamini, Cuadrado-Quesada, Fantini, Gupta, Hasan, ter Horst, Jamali, Jaspers, Obani, Schwartz, Shubber, Smit, Torio, Tutusaus (2017) The politics of water governance: distributions of water, authority, and knowledge. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews on Water

Wesselink, A., Kooy, M., Warner, J. (2016) Socio-hydrology and hydrosocial analysis: towards dialogues across disciplines. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews on Water

Kooy, M., Walter, C., Prabaharyaka, I. (2016) Inclusive development of urban water services in Jakarta: the role of groundwater. Habitat International 

Kooy (2014) Developing Informality: Jakarta's urban waterscape. Water Alternatives Vol.7(1): 35-53.

Kooy and Bakker (2008) Splintered Networks: Fragmentation of water supply in Jakarta, 1870-1990Geoforum Vol.39:1843-1858.

Kooy and Bakker (2008) Technologies of Government: Constituting subjectivities, spaces, and infrastructures in colonial and contemporary JakartaInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 32(2):375-391.

Bakker, Kooy, Shofiani, and Martijn (2008) Governance failure, capability failure: Institutions, incentives, and technological constraints in connecting poor households to networked water supply. World Development Vol. 36(10): 1891-1915.



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