Ellis Adjei Adams

Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Policy

Ellis Adjei  Adams

4113 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 631-2765


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Ellis Adjei Adams

Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Policy


Environmental policy; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); water policy and governance; gender, water, and development; cities; political ecology; sub-Saharan Africa

At the Keough School

Ellis Adjei Adams is an assistant professor of geography and environmental policy in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.



Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, Adams was an assistant professor of global studies and geosciences at Georgia State University. He earned a PhD in geography, environment, and spatial sciences from Michigan State University, an MS in environmental policy from Michigan Tech University, and a BS in natural resources management from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.

Recognition and Awards

  • 2020 Distinguished Emerging Scholar Award in African Geography, Association of American Geographers
  • Co-recipient, Nabuo Maeda International Research Award, American Public Health Association.

Professional Roles/Positions

Adams is currently consulting for the World Bank to develop a WASH and Health Index for Africa. At Notre Dame, he is affiliated with the Environmental Change Initiative and the Eck Institute for Global Health.

Research and Publications

Adams’ work examines the social, political, institutional, and governance dimensions of environmental and natural resources, particularly water. Trained as a human environmental geographer with expertise bridging the natural and social sciences, he is broadly interested in nature-society relations. His research to date has primarily focused on understanding human-water interactions in different urban contexts in the Global South.

His current research converges on three main domains: 1) urban water insecurity, 2) water policy and governance, and 3) gender, water, and sustainable development. The first explores the causes and socioeconomic consequences of household water insecurity in urban areas; the second examines how policy (public, private, community-based, etc.) and power relations influence access to water; and the third explores the multiple relationships between gender, water, and sustainable development. Theoretically, his work draws from and contributes to political ecology, feminist political ecology, environmental justice, and common pool resources theory.

Adams has conducted fieldwork principally in Africa (Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda), with emerging interests in Brazil and the United States. He is a co-principal investigator on a $398,482 National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project “Analyzing the Magnitude, Variability, and Governance of Infrastructure-Mediated Flows in Atlanta” with collaborators at Georgia State University.

Recent Work

‘Spaces of exclusion’ in community water governance: a feminist political ecology of gender and participation in Malawi’s urban water user associations (Geoforum)

Water sharing and the right to water: Refusal, rebellion and everyday resistance (Political Geography)

Land dispossessions and water appropriations: Political ecology of land and water grabs in Ghana (Land Use Policy)

The difference a day can make: The temporal dynamics of drinking water access and quality in urban slums (Science of the Total Environment)

Are urban informal communities capable of co-production? The influence of community–public partnerships on water access in Lilongwe, Malawi (Environment and Urbanization)

Chieftaincy and sustainable urban land use planning in Yendi, Ghana: Towards congruence (Cities)

The role of community-based livestock management institutions in the adoption and scaling up of pigeon peas in Malawi
(Food Policy)

Do the urban poor want household taps? Community preferences and willingness to pay for household taps in Accra, Ghana (Journal of Environmental Management)

Urban water supply in Sub-Saharan Africa: historical and emerging policies and institutional arrangements (International Journal of Water Resources Development)

In the Media

News and Blog Posts