Post graduates help kickstart Flood Innovation Programme with a roadmap

Mariam Zaqout

Zora Van Leeuwen

Two post graduate researchers from water@leeds, Mariam Zaqout and Zora Van Leeuwen, are helping to shape the future direction of an innovative project to reduce the impact of flooding and climate change in West Yorkshire with the development of an action plan.

They have joined the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Team (iCASP) funded by National Environment Research Council and Research England to put together a roadmap to kickstart the ambitious West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (WY FLIP).     

This will help key partners from five local authorities, the Environment Agency, academia, industry and the third sector collaboratively define their aims for the WY FLIP with its five key themes and set out a plan of action for delivering innovative solutions to flood resilience.

An initial stage of the programme is to run two workshops to capture the views of partners from a wide range of sectors – not just those who manage flood risk – and these are being co-ordinated by Mariam and Zora.

The first workshop is on Thursday 17 February focusing on developing the pathway that WY FLIP will take to reach its overarching aim and principles, the second on Tuesday 1 March will focus on the aims, opportunities and barriers of the five programme themes. Both workshops will be online and run between 1 – 3pm – anyone who is interested in taking part can email

Mariam is a final-year PhD researcher based at the School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. Her research focuses on the political economy of water and sanitation services.

Born in Palestine, she has a BSc degree in Environmental Engineering and an MSc in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering and worked for two years in consulting companies in the field of environmental studies

Mariam said: “This is a great project which promotes collaborative work and ownership among its partners to enable sustainable flood solutions.

“I am looking forward to helping develop the roadmap as it addresses technical innovation and also encourages the ongoing and long-term commitment to knowledge sharing and building partnerships not only across West Yorkshire but also amongst national communities.”

Zora studied MEng Civil Engineering at University of Sheffield and produced a thesis on “Natural Flood Management potential of leaky dams in upland catchments” for her PhD in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. During that time she took seven months out to work as Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council’s natural flood management project officer and has worked for three years in flood risk management at environmental consultancy, JBA Consulting.

“In my previous work I could see there was a need for cross-disciplinary, collaborative working on the types of innovative projects that are being proposed under the WY FLIP themes,” said Zora.

 “It’s really exciting to be part of a programme which is aiming to deliver this.”

Professor Joseph Holden, director of iCASP, said: “We are delighted to have such highly talented support from Mariam and Zora at the crucial initial stage of this exciting project.

“We are seeking to bring further major investment to the region in world-leading flood solutions, transforming the resilience of our economy, environment and wellbeing. The roadmap will help us to communicate our joint vision for WY FLIP and collaboratively develop our ways of working, involving more partners and potential funders in our work.”