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Tony Allan

Professor Tony Allan

Tony Allan is an internationally esteemed expert in water resources and the political economy of water policy and its reform. A pioneer in the development of key concepts in the understanding and communication of water issues and how they are linked to agriculture, climate change, economics and politics, he was named the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate on 19 March 2008. While now retired from teaching, he continues to be an active researcher and supervisor of research students in the framework of the School of Oriental and African Studies / King’s College London Water Issues Group which he founded.

Tony Allan was on the panel of the Food and Water Security debate held as part of Getting Real About Climate Change in March 2010 and Food and Water Security as part of The Green Phoenix debate programme in August 2010.


Tony Allan's research focuses on the social and political contexts which influence and usually determine water use and water policy. The research aims to explain why environmental and economic priorities fail to figure on the agenda of those using and allocating water. The major current research focus takes into account the underlying fundamentals of water in the hydrological cycle and the impact of engineering interventions. Policy issues are a prime concern and especially the difficulties that scientists and professionals encounter in gaining a place for their 'knowledge' in water policy discourses. In the Middle East and North Africa - a major regional focus of research - it has been shown that the water crisis has been ameliorated through the availability of virtual water embedded in the international food trade.

A second research focus is global water resource and the extent to which global resources will be sufficient to meet the needs of future populations. A third research focus is the institutional basis of water policy reform. A fourth is the financing of the water sector. The KCL Water Research Group networks intensively with scientists and professionals in the water sector in the North and the South. The group is recognised both as a major innovator of economic, social and political interdisciplinary theory and as a serious contributor to water policy analysis.

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The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy Virtual Water: Tackling the Threat to Our Planet's Most Precious Resource

Recent Publications

Allan, J.A. Constructing and foregrounding and back-grounding risk: consequences for water-policy making in the MENA region. Bulletin of the Rural Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. Special issue on Risk, Complex, Crises and Social Futures, in press.

Allan, J.A. Virtual water eliminates water wars: water, food and trade. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, in press.

Allan, J.A., Turton, A., Nicol, A. (2003) Policy options in water stressed states: emerging lessons from the Middle East and Southern Africa. Pretoria, AWIRU and London: ODI, 86p., ISBN 0-620-31035-9.

Allan, J.A., Sullivan, C. et al. (2003) The water poverty index: development and application at the community scale, Natural Resources Forum, 27, 189-199.

Allan, J.A. (2002) Hydro-peace in the Middle East: why no water wars? A case study of the Jordan River Basin, SAIS Review, XXII, 255-272

Allan, J.A.(2002) The Middle East water question: looking behind conventional assumptions, Journal of Social Affairs, Journal of the Sociological Association of the UAE and the University of Sharjah, 19, 37-52.

Allan, J.A (2003) Virtual water - the water, food and trade nexus: useful concept or misleading metaphor? Water International, 28, 4-11.

Allan, J.A. (2003) Poor communities in water resource management: A political project, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, nytt, Special Issue, Water in Asia: the policy impact, 2, 20-22.

Allan, J.A. (2003) The Middle East water question: looking behind conventional assumptions. Journal of Social Affairs (Sociological Association of the UAE), 19, 37-52.

Allan, J.A. (2003) Virtual water eliminates water wars, in Hoekstra (Editor), Virtual water trade, Delft (Netherlands): IHE, 137-145.

Allan, J.A. (2003) Policy analysis and institutional frameworks in climate and water. In: Kabat, P., Schulze, R. E., Hellmuth, M.E. and Veraart, J.A. (eds.) Coping with impacts of climate variability and climate change in water management: a scoping paper, Delft: IHE-Dialogue on water and climate, 58-70.

Allan, J.A. (2002) Water resources in semi-arid regions: real deficits and economically invisible and politically silent solutions. In: Turton, A. and Henwood, R. (eds.) Hydro-politics in the developing world, a southern African perspective, Pretoria: AWIRU at Pretoria University, pp 23-36

Allan, J.A. (2001) Virtual water: invisible solutions and second best policy outcomes in the MENA region. International Water and Irrigation Journal.

Allan, J.A. (2001) Wasserpolitik fur das neue Jahrtausend: gesellschaft, diskuts und macht. Inamo (Informationsprojekt Naher and Mittlerer Osten), Special issue on Wasserpolitik: probleme und perspecktiven, 27, 3-6. ISSN 0946 0721

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Useful Links

Books by Tony Allan from Amazon
SOAS/KCL Water Issues Group
Professor Tony Allan research profile
Professor Tony Allan page at SOAS

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