Holly Clark 

PhD Candidate

Holly is a PhD candidate in her first year of study at the University of Strathclyde, based in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Her research is funded by, and is part of the Climate Justice Fund Water Future Programme delivered by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde.


Holly holds a Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences from the University of Glasgow and a Masters of Science in Hydrogeology form the University of Strathclyde. She also has 4 years experience working as a hydrogeologist and project manager on a variety of water and waste sector projects for the engineering consultant Mott MacDonald.

Holly Clark.jpg

‘’Where there is a will there's a way, and I have a way’ – Donkey from Shrek (2001)

Risk and resilience of groundwater as a public water supply in Malawi: the future of the aquifer

Research overview

Holly's research develops upon the research of her MSc dissertation, which focused on the risk status of group villages in Malawi based on their water security and access to functioning water points. This was largely based on analysis of water point mapping data which had been carried out for one district in southern Malawi. With improvements and expansion of the water point mapping and monitoring programme in Malawi, using the mWater management information system, Holly's research is focused on applying this risk analysis to the newly mapped water points to identify and analyse linkages between water point failures and the underlying aquifer. Understanding the capabilities of the aquifer as a resource is the basis to Holly's dissertation research.


Groundwater levels currently monitored in the aquifers of Malawi are declining year on year, despite seasonal variations, which has resulted in many drilled water wells drying up, even with the best available infrastructure and drilling practices. Ultimately, a better understanding of the risks and capabilities of groundwater as a public water supply will help to build resilience in the country against future water shortages, declining water levels and result in targeted future investment.

Outputs from mWater mapping portal showing spatial data of water points including the flow rate (seconds to fill a 20l bucket) (left) and number of days, in the last consecutive 30 days, the water point has provided water (right). This is useful to correlate with water point functionality data to assess areas which are more resilient and lower risk (centre). The ongoing monitoring programme will help to understand the aquifer yield and over future vulnerability.

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