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

RECIRCULATE supports 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.

Part of this ambition is being realised through the GCRF-funded ACTUATE project is working with partners to develop anaerobic digestion demonstrator systems in Ghana and Nigeria to deliver electricity, sanitation improvements and sustainable fertilizer for crops.

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 in Africa and 4-8 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.