Jeltsje Kemerink - Seyoum

Senior Lecturer in Water Governance


Jeltsje Sanne Kemerink-Seyoum is a water engineer and a social scientist. She holds the position of Senior Lecturer in Water Governance at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. Jeltsje has  fiveteen years professional experience in research, teaching and project management.

The research of Jeltsje mainly focuses on a critical analysis of policy and infrastructural interventions by documenting of how different groups of water users engage with these processes. For this, Jeltsje adopts an interdisciplinary approach in which she considers water distributions as the outcome of interactions between nature, technologies and society. Currently she is particularly interested in understanding what water infrastructure is and what it does within these interactions. For this purpose she studies in detail the everyday practices of engineers, operators and water users who engage with (subsurface and groundwater) irrigation systems. In her work Jeltsje pays explicit attention to processes of social differentiation, in particular gender and race.

For her PhD dissertation Jeltsje studied the negotiations over access to water between various groups of farmers in the context of water reform processes in four African countries, namely Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Since 2018 she is the Subject Editor on water governance for the peer-reviewed journal Water SA.

Besides her research activities, Jeltsje is a member of the programmatic collaboration between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IHE Delft (DUPC) and as such involved in the defining and monitoring the strategic directions of the programme. Moreover, she has been involved as project manager in a large-scale capacity development projects in the field of water and environmental management in amongst others Rwanda, Zimbabwe and South Africa, including coordinating the collaboration with WaterNet, a network of more than 70 universities and institutes in eastern and southern Africa that aim to strengthen educational and research capacity in the field of water management. 

As lecturer Jeltsje has experience in delivering courses on various subjects including water governance, public participation, institutional analysis, legal pluralism and research methodology for qualitative social sciences. In 2011 she successfully obtained her University Teaching Qualification. Jeltsje actively supervised MSc and PhD students in their thesis research on water governance related case studies in Ethiopia, Jordan, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. For several years Jeltsje is an active member of the Water Management and Governance Master Programme Committee and as such she has played twice a key role in the successful reaccreditation process of the programme. Currently she coordinates the flexible study profiles with the Master programme and coaches students to choose a study trajectory that suits their educational needs.

In addition to her position at IHE Delft, Jeltsje is a visiting researcher at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and she has been appointed as an affiliated faculty member of the Oregon State University in the United States of America. 


PhD dissertation:

Kemerink, J.S. (2015) Policies lost in translation? Unravelling water reform processes in African waterscapes. PhD dissertation, Delft University of Technology. Leiden: Taylor and Francis. ISBN: 978-1-138-02943-9


Articles in refereed journals:

Silva-Novoa Sanchez, L.M.; Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S., Waisa Batega, D. and Paul. R. (2020) Caught in the middle? Access to water in the rural to urban transformation of Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality, Uganda. Water Policy 22(4).

Sara J. Marks, S.J,  Clair-Caliot, G., Taing, L., Bamwenda, J.T., Kanyesigye, C.,  Rwendeire,  N.E.,  Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S., Kansiime, F., Waisa Batega, D., Giuliana Ferrero, G. (2020) Water supply and sanitation services in small towns in rural–urban transition zones: The case of Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality, Uganda. njp Clean Water 3 (21).

Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S.; Chitata, T.; Dominguez Guzman, C.; Novoa-Sanchez, L.M.; Zwarteveen, M.Z. (2019) Attention to Sociotechnical Tinkering with Irrigation Infrastructure as a Way to Rethink Water Governance. Water 11, 1670.

Silva-Novoa Sanchez, L.M.; Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S.; Zwarteveen, M. (2019) Water Infrastructure Always In-The-Making: Distributing Water and Authority through the Water Supply Network in Moamba, Mozambique. Water 2019, 11, 1926.

Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S., T.M. Tadesse, W.K. Mersha, A.E.C. Duker, C. De Fraiture (2018) Sharing benefits or fueling conflicts? The elusive quest for organizational blue-prints in climate financed forestry projects in Ethiopia. Global Environmental Change 53: 265–272

Duker A.E.C., T. M. Tadesse, T. Soentoro, C. de Fraiture and J. S. Kemerink-Seyoum (2018) The implications of ignoring smallholder agriculture in climate-financed forestry projects: empirical evidence from two REDD+ pilot projects. Climate Policy [DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2018.1532389]

Zwarteveen, M., J.S. Kemerink-Seyoum, et al. (2017) Engaging with the politics of water Governance. WIREs Water, e01245 [DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1245]

Kemerink-Seyoum, J.S., N.L. T. Chinguno, S.D. Seyoum, R. Ahlers, P. van der Zaag (2017) Jumping the water queue: changing waterscapes under water reform processes in rural Zimbabwe. Water SA 43(3): 423-432 [DOI:]

Mendez, L. E., J.S. Kemerink, P. Wester, F. Molle (2016) Commercial farmers’ strategies to control water resources in South Africa: an empirical view of reform. International Journal on Water Resource Development, [doi:10.1080/07900627.2016.1253544]

Kemerink, J.S., S.N. Munyao, K. Schwartz, R. Ahlers, P. van der Zaag (2016) Why infrastructure still matters: unravelling water reform processes in an uneven waterscape in rural Kenya. International Journal of the Commons 10(2): 1055–1081.

Di Baldassarre, G., J. S. Kemerink, M. Kooy, L. Brandimarte (2014) Floods and Societies: the Spatial Distribution of Water-related Disaster Risk and its Dynamics. WIREs Water 1(2):133-139.

Di Baldassarre, G., M. Kooy, J. S. Kemerink, L. Brandimarte (2013) Towards understanding the dynamic behaviour of floodplains as human-water systems. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. 10: 3869–3895. [DOI:10.5194/hessd-10-3869-2013]

Kemerink, J.S., L. E. Mendez, R. Ahlers, P. van der Zaag (2013) The question of inclusion and representation in rural South Africa: challenging the concept of Water User Associations as a vehicle for transformation. Water Policy 15: 243–257. [DOI:10.2166/wp.2012.127]

Komakech, H.C., P. van der Zaag, M. L. Mul, T.A. Mwakalukwa, J.S. Kemerink (2012) Formalization of water allocation systems and impacts on local practices in the Hingilili subcatchment, Tanzania. International Journal of River Basin Management, 10 (3): 213-227. [DOI:10.1080/15715124.2012.664774].

Kemerink, J.S., R. Ahlers, P. van der Zaag (2011) Contested water right in post-apartheid South-Africa: the struggle for water at catchment level. Water SA, 37 (4): 585-594. [DOI:

Mul, M.L., J.S. Kemerink, N.F. Vyagusa, M.G. Mshana, P. van der Zaag, and H. Makurira (2011) Water allocation practices among smallholder farmers in the South Pare Mountains, Tanzania; can they be up-scaled? Agricultural Water Management 98(11): 1752-1760. [DOI:10.1016/j.agwat.2010.02.014]

Kemerink, J.S., R. Ahlers, P. van der Zaag (2009) Assessment of the potential for hydro-solidarity in plural legal condition of traditional irrigation systems in northern Tanzania. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 34: 881-889. [DOI:10.1016/j.pce.2009.06.012]


Chapters in books:

Kemerink, J.S., D. Mbuvi, Schwartz, K. (2012) Governance shifts in the water services sector: a case study of the Zambia water services sector. In Katko T., Juuti P.S. and Schwartz K. (eds) Water Services Management and Governance: Lessons for a Sustainable Future. IWA Publishing: 3-11.


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