Thursday 19 March 2020

Dr Hifza Rasheed - Clean water and sanitation in Pakistan

Through research and development projects, Dr Hifza Rasheed (PhD 2018) has helped improve water quality for millions of people across the Punjab province of Pakistan. 

Her work has strong links to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Arsenic in water

Hifza has worked for the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) since 2002, taking time out to complete her PhD in Leeds.

"My PhD was focused on exposure to chemical forms of arsenic – a naturally occurring element with multiple toxic effects,” says Hifza. “I developed a method to describe the sources, exposure routes and the overall risks to human health of arsenic.

"Study in Leeds is almost synonymous with quality and world class research, so holding a PhD from there and working in collaboration with UK researchers helped to increase the quality of my work.”

Her findings highlighted the need for arsenic free water for millions of people in the Punjab province, helping to initiate the medical treatment of affected communities. Her work assisted scientific communities, regulatory bodies, and policy makers in managing the chemical contamination.

"Coming back home with an academic title from the UK strengthened the influence I had here and has allowed me to give back to the society in such a big way.”

Now, as Director of Water Quality Research at PCRWR, Hifza continues to carry out water quality monitoring, identifying risks to surface and ground water sources. She then organises the treatment of water and wastewater.

"Study in Leeds is almost synonymous with quality and world class research, so holding a PhD from there and working in collaboration with UK researchers helped to increase the quality of my work.”

Dr Hifza Rasheed (PhD 2018)

British Council award

Hifza was nominated for the Professional Achievement Category at the British Council Study UK Alumni Awards in Pakistan. “I was super excited to hear this great news,” says Hifza. “I never thought it would actually happen. It means so much to me and it’s a nice reward for my hard work.”

In 2019, UN updates outlined that despite progress, billions of people still lack safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities. More efficient use and management of water are critical to addressing the growing demand for water. Hifza’s work is a crucial part of this process in Pakistan.