Sydney’s interdisciplinary PhD research aims to better understand and elucidate key breakdowns in the water sector governance system in Malawi and to design and trial novel participatory methods to overcoming them. This will involve detailed stakeholder mapping and social network analysis of the actors in the governance system; building a robust understanding of what is currently working well and where there are barriers to improved decision-making; and co-designing and trialling novel methods for better engagement and closing feedback loops across the governance system with a particular focus on the interaction between citizens and local government. Her research will also seek to characterize the link between findings and broader systems thinking theory, and the implications on project design for water practitioners in international development contexts.
Prior to starting her PhD, Sydney worked with various organisations on water governance in Malawi over a span of nine years, including Engineers Without Borders Canada as well as the Water and Environmental Sanitation Network of Malawi. She founded the social venture WASH Catalysts to engage in sector advocacy, strengthening local government capacity, and consulting for non-governmental organisations to improve institutional sustainability of WASH projects. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Saskatchewan.