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Lani van Vuuren  

              Advert for Masters-degree researchers at UCT

Constraints on providing public flush toilet facilities in Western Cape informal settlements

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Urban Water Management Research Group is an interdisciplinary research group with academics, researchers and postgraduate students from UCT’s Civil Engineering, Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Social Anthropology and Urban Planning Departments. The inter-disciplinarity of the group is an acknowledgement of the need to address urban water planning and management from a holistic perspective.

 The Research Group has recently been awarded a two-year (1 April 2012 – 31 March 2014) Water Research Commission grant to study the constraints on providing public flush toilet facilities in Western Cape informal settlements with the aim of stimulating discussion on possible ways to overcome these constraints.

The study requires two Masters degree research students to join its team which already has a doctoral and one other Masters student on it.  In all likelihood they will be required to focus on the effectiveness and social-cultural and economic/financial implications of providing municipally funded janitorial services to public flush toilet facilities in informal settlements – work that should provide the basis for their Masters dissertations. Those appointed will most likely be required to undertake ethnographic research, using participant observation methods, in one or two informal settlements where such facilities already exist.  It is also possible that one of the appointed Masters students will be responsible for a social survey of informal residents that will be developed relatively late in the study on the basis of the study’s ethnographic research.

 It is envisaged that the successful applicants will be registered and resident at UCT, but with fieldwork being carried out in one or more Western Cape urban areas.

Applicants should be familiar with ethnographic methods and:

(a)     Already enrolled for a course-work Masters programme at UCT in 2012/3. Those wishing to use the data gathered from their involvement in this study for their dissertations will need to arrange the coursework component of the programme in such a way as to accommodate the demands of a being part of the research team; or

(b)     Interested in a full-time research masters programme leading towards completion of a full dissertation within 18 months from now.

Applicants should preferably be young South Africans or citizens of SADC countries.  Young researchers from other developing regions may also apply. Tax-free bursaries that cover academic fees and basic living expenses plus research expenses are available.

·         Applicants must be able to demonstrate a strong interest in conducting and participating in interdisciplinary sanitation-related research in informal settlements. Proven experience in that kind of field will be an advantage.

·         Applicants must have demonstrable experience with ethnographic methods of research and/or be willing to do a course starting mid Feb 2012 in order to equip them appropriately to do so.

·         Candidates must have a degree with high enough grades to entitle them to register for a Masters degree, and in a discipline relevant to the research theme, e.g. anthropology, social welfare, public health, environmental science/human geography, economics, sociology or environmental, civil or sanitary engineering (social-cultural aspects).

·         Applicants with a pronounced affinity for on-the-ground fieldwork will be preferred.

·         The applicant must be proficient in both spoken and written academic English, with well developed communication and writing skills, and must have a valid driver’s licence.

Interested applicants should send the following to Associate Professor Andrew ‘Mugsy’ Spiegel (mugsy.spiegel@uct.ac.za) by 6 August 2012, 12h00. The email should be headed “WRC Constraints study” and should include as attachments: (i) curriculum vitae, (ii) transcripts for all previous degrees, (iii) the names and contact details of two referees, (iv) a letter of motivation in which the applicant outlines her/his reasons for wanting to be considered, and (v) a sample of written work, e.g. an essay, or dissertation.

Those short listed may be contacted for an interview. We reserve the right not to make an appointment.

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