Staff Profiles

Dr Supriya Akerkar

LLB (Mumbai University), MA Development Studies (Institute of Social Studies, Hague), PhD (Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Director, Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP)

School of Architecture

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Supriya Akerkar

Dr Supriya Akerkar has been working in the field of development and emergencies for the last 20 years. She has worked with International development organisations, social movements and civil society campaigns in Global South, on issues of gender,  social equity and building inclusive societies.  Her work focusses on furthering rights of women, gender and sexual minorities, older people and people with disabilities, displaced groups affected by disasters and emergencies, and indigenous people. She has a under graduate degree in law, and a Masters in Development Studies from Institute of Social Studies, Hague. She also has a PhD from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne following her PhD thesis titled: The production of rights in disasters in Uttar Pradesh, India: Implications for theory and Practice. 

She has received the Brookes Research Excellence Award in 2022 for research titled Ageing in Displacement, exploring the intersectionality of gender, ageing and displacement processes in relation to older refugees in UK. 

Her policy paper on Gender and Older People (February 2022) developed for the Programme and Ageing Unit (PAU), United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), New York has been used to develop guidance for the governments to further the wellbeing of older people through the UN office. See:

Her research publications explore marginalisation processes, gender, and rights in the context of disasters and displacements of persons affected by emergencies.

Her applied research work includes working with non-governmental and civil society organisations to influence practices through critical research. In 2019-20, she conducted research with HelpAge International titled National Platforms for Ageing: A review of their formations, approaches, advocacy practices and learnings, learnings from which was used to develop guidance on how to form and sustain National Platform of Older People for advocacy of rights of older people.

She was the principle research investigator for Oxford Brookes University for the project ADCAP (Age and Disability Capacity Project) (2014-2018),  led by a consortium of International development organisations, coordinated by HelpAge International and funded by the UK Government and US AID/OFDA. Dr Akerkar has tracked real time evidence based learnings over the project period and has developed Good Practice Guide for enabling inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian responses. She was also a review team member for ADCAP Humanitarian Inclusion Standards for older people and people with disabilities. ADCAP is a consortium of seven international development organisations; Help Age international, IFRC, Handicap International, CBM, Disaster ready, RedR, and Oxford Brookes University. 

In her earlier work, prior to joining CENDEP in 2012, she has worked on socially inclusive humanitarian and disaster response and risk reduction practices, and rights based advocacy. 

She was a senior researcher with the Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne ( 2007 - 2011) - on the EU supported FP6 project titled MICRODIS, evaluating social and gendered impacts of disasters in different country contexts; and in particular in UK and India. 

Based in Addis Ababa, she was the Advocacy and Policy Leader for Action Aid International Ethiopia (Dec 2006-August 2007) leading research and advocacy on themes of women's rights, education rights, livelihoods and food security, and just governance in Ethiopia. Between 2000-2007, Supriya has led the work of Action Aid International in different countries: leading Action Aid India's Gujarat earthquake rehabilitation and communal violence healing work; Indigenous people's rights in Orissa; mainstreaming women's rights in humanitarian interventions in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Somalia following the tsunami in 2004. 

She has worked with the DFID India as the social development expert (1998-2000), and guided the policy and practice of DFID supported livelihoods/natural resource development projects to meet its social equity objectives.

As a policy researcher on sustainable development issues, whilst working with the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India (1995 -1998), she has also lobbied at intergovernmental forums such as Rio+5 at New York, Conference of Parties for Desertification Convention, working closely with the INGOs involved in global south. As a social activist (1988-1994) she worked with social movements on furthering land and forest rights of indigenous people.