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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Karen Lebek

Doctoral Researcher
Domestic water security of rural dwellers in the Upper Umvoti, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa


  • Separating the effects of landuse change and climate change on streamflow
  • Waterscapes
  • Domestic water security and water sovereignty


"Many rural dwellers in the Umvoti River Basin do not have sufficient access to safe drinking water. I aim to find out what factors play into this, and what might be needed to improve their situation. I am looking at the problem from different disciplinary angles and at different spatial scales, employing a mixed methods approach." Karen Lebek

Karen Lebek is a doctoral researcher at IRI THESys. In 2013, she graduated in geo-ecology at the University of Potsdam. The focus of her studies was on modelling in hydrology. She worked as a student collaborator at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Since November 2013, Karen is part of the IRI THESys Junior Research Group "Transformations and uncertainties of land-water systems" which is led by Tobias Krüger. In her research project, she explores different factors for household water security of rural dwellers in the Umvoti River Basin, Kwazulu-Natal (South Africa).  She has conducted a household survey in rural settlements in the Upper Umvoti to explore in what way domestic water security and water sovereignty in rural settlements depend on the type and distance of water source, and the access to this water source in terms of continuity and seasonality. She will also consider water legislation and policy and how these play out in shaping the waterscape. In addition, she will do a statistical analysis to separate the effects from climate change and land-use change on streamflow.

Thesys Projects