UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Mariam Zaqout

Mariam Zaqout is a Postdoctoral Researcher (Economics of Water) at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP).

Mariam Zaqout
Mariam Zaqout is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work focuses on improving access to water and sanitation in low-and middle-income countries. She has extensive qualitative experience in the political economy of basic services, including water and sanitation. In 2022, Mariam worked for the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme to support five city councils in West Yorkshire in setting a roadmap for their new flood innovation programme. Her work involved the co-production of research by promoting stakeholder engagement from the five city councils in West Yorkshire, charities, consulting firms, and national government institutions.

Research summary 

Mariam joined the IIPP in January 2023 to support the work of Professor Mariana Mazzucato as a co-chair for the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. Mariam researches the current water innovation in technology and governance both in the Global South and North to assess opportunities and challenges to scaling them in different contexts and apply the IIPP new economic thinking, such as market and innovation shaping in different contexts.

Before joining IIPP, Mariam was a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds at the School of Civil Engineering and the School of Politics and International Studies. Mariam's PhD thesis focused on the political economy of sanitation services and specifically the incentives of sanitation stakeholders to fund/allocate resources across the various sanitation services. The thesis examines public services literature and how the economic and institutional characteristics of these services influence the incentives of the involved stakeholders to fund them. Her PhD covered different service arrangements and contexts, including International Development Banks in Bangladesh, Social enterprise in Kenya, State service provision in South Africa and External aid in Palestine. Before moving to England in 2017 to pursue her master's degree studies at the University of Leeds, Mariam worked in environmental and urban studies consulting in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. 

Mariam is also involved in livelihoods research and in particular, sanitation workers' wellbeing in South Asia; her research was featured in the first assessment report produced by the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation to advocate the rights of sanitation workers in the Global South. Mariam is currently a co-principal investigator for sanitation workers' livelihoods research project led by the Centre for Water Supply and Waste Management - International Training Network - Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Practical Action Bangladesh. The project takes on a participatory research approach by collaborating with sanitation workers as co-researchers to assess opportunities and barriers of current organisations to improve the wellbeing and sustainability of their livelihoods.

Journal articles
  • Sharior F, Alam M-U, Zaqout M, Cawood S, Ferdous S, Shoaib DM, et al. (2023) Occupational health and safety status of waste and sanitation workers: A qualitative exploration during the COVID-19 pandemic across Bangladesh. PLOS Water 2(1): e0000041. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pwat.0000041
  • Bhakta A, Cawood S, Zaqout M, Evans BE and (2022) Sanitation work: realising equity and inclusion in the WASH sector, Fronters in Water- Water and Human Systems DOI: 10.3389/frwa.2022.1022581
  • Alam, M.U., Sharior, F., Shoaib, D.M., Hasan, M., Tabassum, K.F., Ferdous, S., Hasan, M., Rahman, M., Tidwell, J.B., Zaqout, M. and Farah, M., (2022). Hygiene knowledge and practices and determinants of occupational safety among waste and sanitation workers in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hygiene and Environmental Health Advances4, p.100022. DOI: 10.1016/j.heha.2022.100022
  • Zaqout M, Cawood S, Evans BE, and Barrington DJ. (2020) Sustainable sanitation jobs: prospects for enhancing the livelihoods of pit-emptiers in Bangladesh. Third World Quarterly DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2020.1810560
  • Zaqout M and Hueso, A. (2020) ‘Providing municipal faecal sludge management services: lessons from Bangladesh’, Waterlines, 39(2–3), pp. 166–179. DOI: 10.3362/1756-3488.20-00002.
Blogposts and policy reports