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Dr Supriya Akerkar

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

Senior Lecturer Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), MA Development and Emergency Practice (DEP) Programme Leader

School of Architecture

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

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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. 

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 is currently the principle investigator for Oxford Brookes University on action research project ADCAP (Age and Disability Capacity Project), led by a consortium of International development organisations, funded by the UK Government and US AID/OFDA. The purpose of this project is to develop practices and methodologies that ensures that the needs of aged women and men and those with disabilities are met in emergencies. Dr Akerkar has tracked real time evidence based learnings over the project period and is developing Good Practice Guide for inclusion of women and men with disabilities and older persons in humanitarian responses. 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, she has worked on socially inclusive disaster response and risk reduction practices, sustainable development issues, rights based advocacy, and food security:

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

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.

Between 2000-2007, Supriya has led the work of Action Aid International in different countries, on human rights and social equity issues. This work has included leading Action Aid India's Gujarat earthquake rehabilitation and communal violence healing work; Orissa development and emergency programme work; and mainstreaming women's rights in emergency interventions in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia following the tsunami in 2004. She has also worked as the policy and advocacy leader for Action Aid International Ethiopia, focusing on issues of food security, just governance, education and women's rights.

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.



Modules taught

I have designed, teach and lead two modules for MA Development and Emergency Practice, CENDEP:

Critical inquiry in development and emergency practice: theory and policy

Disasters, risks, vulnerability and climate change

The key thematic areas of my research interest and experience are: Socially inclusive development, Disaster risk reduction, preparedness and resilience building; disaster and development linkages, environmental change and migration with gender, age, disability as cross-cutting issues in related to these themes.

My research is applied, inter-disciplinary and crosses boundaries between development studies, geography, gender studies and built environment. My current research projects and publications include new contributions on gender, age and disability sensitive humanitarian practices, social equity, disaster risk reduction and resilience building practices with a focus on global south, and in particular South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.

The application of my research is to improve the operational practice of disaster response, risk reduction and resilience building with a focus on socially marginalised groups.  My past and current linkages with social action groups, International and National NGOs in the global south give me a good platform to disseminate my research findings, and advocate for changes in policies and practices.


Research interests

Enabling Social Inclusion: Gender, Age, Disability and marginalised identities in Development 

Human rights and disasters with a focus on marginalised groups such as migrants and urban poor, and gender as a cross-cutting issue

Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction work using comparative case studies or scenarios from different countries

Disaster and development linkages with policy and applied research perspectives


Research group membership

Fellow, The Higher Education Academy, UK

Member, Gender and Disaster Network

Member, UKADR (UK alliance for Disaster Research)


Research grants and awards

DFID funded Age and Disability Capacity Project

Journal articles

  • Akerkar S, Fordham M, 'Gender, place and mental health recovery in disasters: addressing issues of equality and difference'
    International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 23 (2017)
    ISSN: 2212-4209 eISSN: 2212-4209
    Abstract Website
  • Akerkar S, Joshi, PC, Fordham M, 'Cultures of Entitlement and Social Protection: Evidence from Flood Prone Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India'
    World Development 86 (2016) pp.46-58
    ISSN: 0305-750X eISSN: 0305-750X
    Abstract Website
  • Akerkar S, 'Development of a normative framework for disaster relief: learning from colonial histories in India'
    Disasters 39 (S2) (2015) pp.219-243
    ISSN: 0361-3666 eISSN: 0361-3666
    Abstract Website

Book chapters

  • Akerkar A, Devavaram J, 'Understanding Rights Based Approach in Disasters: A case for affirming human dignity' in Collins A, Jones S, Manyena B, Jayawickrama J (ed.), Hazard, Risks and Disasters in Society, Elsevier (2015)
    ISBN: 978-0-12-396451-9
    Abstract Website

Other select publications

Fordham M, Gupta S with Akerkar, S and Scharf M (2011) Leading resilient development: grassroots women's priorities, practices and innovations, published by Groots International and UNDP; see

Akerkar Supriya (2007) Disaster Mitigation and furthering women's rights: Learning from the Tsunami; in Gender, Technology and Development; 11; see

Akerkar Supriya (2005) Rights, development and democracy: a perspective from India, in Reinventing Development: Translating Rights-Based Approaches from Theory into Practice, Ed Gready, Paul, Ensor Jonathan,  ZED publications, UK and USA

Thomson K, Sundaray S, Akerkar S, Daniel U (2005) Bolangir to Hyderabad and the politics of poverty (co-authored) et al published by Action Aid International

Akerkar S (2001) Gender and participation, publication by Bridge, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK. see

Research contributions to the Fifth Citizen's Report on the State of India's Environment, 1999 Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

Akerkar Supriya (1997) "Feminist voices" in Journal Seminar,  New Delhi, Pg34-37

Akerkar Supriya (1997) Women, ecology and development, in Women's Link, Volume 46, No3, published by Social Action Trust, New Delhi

Akerkar Supriya (1995) "Theory and practice of women's movement in India : A discourse analysis", Working Paper Series No 193, Published by Institute of Social Studies , Hague, Netherlands, April 1995. The Paper is also published in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XXX, No 17, Pg WS 2-WS-23, April 1995. This can be downloaded from


Conference papers and presentations

Presentation on ‘Challenges on making invisible visible: Age and Disability Inclusion in humanitarian responses’, 29th June 2016, organized by CENDEP,  Oxford Brookes University, in Oxford

Presentation on ‘Mainstreaming gender, age and disability in humanitarian response’ in Conference organised by UCL, London and Tohoku University, Japan on 23rd October 2015 in London

Presentation on “Gender mainstreaming of early warning information during disasters: learning from best practices” to the Serbian Ministry on Environment and Agriculture in Belgrade on 28th May 2015, on invitation by OSCE (EU led Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe) mission to Serbia.

Presentation on ‘Trust, emergent learning and building of communities of practice: Learning from Drought and DRR’ at the 3rd world conference in Sendai Japan, in parallel conference session hosted by University of Leicester and Kansai University, 16th March 2015

Conference session on ‘best practices in gender mainstreaming in disaster response’, in Manila, Philippines 24th-25th November,2014 on invitation by Wilton Park (foreign office of Government of UK), organised by Wilton Park and ADPC

Presentation on ‘Disasters, vulnerability reduction and rights’ for the conference “Human rights in Asia”, organised by University of Essex, UK, 31st May 2012

Presentation on ‘Disaster Cultures and Human Rights in India’ in the Dealing with Disasters    conference co-organised by Northumbria University, Glamorgan University and Sunderland University on 23rd-24th November 2010 held at Newcastle.

Presentation on “local entitlements, reciprocity and disaster recovery” in the Asian MICRODIS conference organised at Hue, Vietnam by the Hue University on 25th-27th August 2010.

Presentation on “social impacts of Tewekesbury floods”, in the conference organised by the National Flood Forum, UK in Birmingham on 25 February 2010

Invited discussant  on Gender and Climate Change in the conference organised by the Institute of Development Studies, UK in June 2007