Driving eco-innovation in Africa
Capacity-building for a safe circular water economy

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50% of Africans live in areas without adequate water. 800 million people by 2025.

Urban water pollution is on the rise, and 96% of African agriculture is dependent on rainfall.

RECIRCULATE will support new partnership-based approaches to enable African researchers to grow transformational impact through working with, in and for their communities and developing robust, durable and equitable partnerships with UK researchers.

Solution focused research

The project will deliver innovative solutions to pressing problems with water use and safety. RECIRCULATE will “join up” the different ways in which water sustains communities, from sewage disposal to energy generation and water used in food production.

Interdisciplinary co-designed research

Solving these problems demands new approaches to research, and how research is translated to meet the needs of communities across Africa. Recirculate combines excellence in scientific research (environmental science, crop science, engineering, microbiology), social science and management research (entrepreneurial learning and knowledge exchange).

Across partners and across disciplines, and working with business and other research users, we will co-design research to deliver appropriate solutions for Africa, building on cutting-edge solutions to addressing the global challenges around safe and sustainable water use.

Capacity building

Recirculate includes a very substantial training element, including focused training events at LU Ghana (Accra) and 6-8 week “residences” at Lancaster University.


Eco-innovation delivers the goals of sustainable and equitable societies and economies, including sustainable development. Eco-innovation is a route to delivering the “green economy”, which the World Bank estimates had a global value of $3.4 trillion in 2015, predicted to grow to more than $8 trillion by 2025.

Eco-innovation delivers innovative products, toolkits and services that:

  • Provide new business opportunities
  • Achieve more efficient or responsible use of natural resources
  • Reduce impact on the environment, including contributing to a low carbon economy in all sectors
  • Enhance societal, economic and technological resilience to environmental pressures
Eco-innovation in Africa

Many partners from universities and other research institutions across Africa have recognized that the “Lancaster model” of eco-innovation could transform how they collaborate with their communities, especially business. Policymakers at local, national and pan-African levels have also expressed their strong support for this model as a route to supporting green growth and climate change adaptation across the continent.

Collaboration with research and business

Lancaster University has developed an award-winning model of ecoinnovation where academics and research students work with business. The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, established in 2012 as a multi-partner Centre led by Lancaster University, has already demonstrated its value.

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Lancaster University

Lancaster is a world-class university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching, scholarship and research.

Lancaster is consistently highly placed in all major league tables, ranked top ten in the Guardian, Times and Complete University Guide. It has over 12,000 current students and a network of over 130,000 alumni in 183 countries worldwide. Lancaster University has been awarded the highest possible score in the UK government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) ratings, and named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

In-depth research excellence across all disciplines

Driven by research, and stimulating learning, as a globally significant university Lancaster informs and changes practice and thinking worldwide. Recirculate makes full use of Lancaster’s breadth of research excellence, drawing on expertise and facilities in four departments:

Partnerships with Africa

Lancaster University has been working with partners in Africa for many years. As well as numerous research collaborations across many departments and individual academics, Lancaster has established broader partnerships with several African universities. In 2013 Lancaster University established its own campus in Ghana.

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RECIRCULATE is an international collaboration, led by Lancaster University with partners in Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Kenya.

The well-established collaborations between these four partners were the foundation of Recirculate but the project is growing a pan-African network of partnerships with the following high-quality, research-led institutions.


Lancaster University is supporting six PhD projects to work alongside the RECIRCULATE research programmes.

The Global Challenges Research Fund

RECIRCULATE is a £7M project funded by UK Research & Innovation through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). 

GCRF is a 5-year £1.5Billion fund and a key component in the delivery of the UK Aid Strategy: tackling global challenges in the national interest.

Contact Us

RECIRCULATE partners welcome others to broaden our network of collaborations to further the goals of the project.

As well as universities or other research organizations, we are especially keen to engage with the wider community, including businesses interested in working with us to drive forward eco-innovation projects, and government and the wider policy community. 

Professor Nigel Paul

T: +44 1524 510208

Dr Paul McKenna

RECIRCULATE Project Manager
T: +44 1524 510301
M: +44 7964 079808

Dr Akanimo Odon

African Strategic Partnerships
M: +44 7447 081119