Current and Past Research
My research focuses on issues linked to the social and environmental sustainability of sanitation services and delivery in urban communities of the Global South, with particular geographical focus on East Africa.
I am currently leading the research project 'Complicated Plastics - addressing taboo waste streams to promote user dignity and sustainable consumption' (2022-2025). The project focuses on the nexus of complicated plastic products and sustainable sanitation, including how taboo waste creates barriers for both sustainable and dignified menstrual health and hygiene management for women and girls, as well as causing occupational health risks to sanitation workers who provide vital sanitation services to communities in low income countries. To exemplify the ways in which these challenges play out in-situ in an urban low-income setting we study this in selected unplanned settlements of Kisumu, Kenya.
Prior to this I co-coordinated the SUSTAIN – Sustainable Sanitation in Theory and Action program (2015-2021), in partnership with the Department of Water Resources Engineering at University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The program aimed at strengthening post-graduate training in integrated sanitation management. At the time it was the first PhD program focused on sanitation in Tanzania. Using sustainability science as a way to critically analyze the complexity of the sanitation crises in Tanzania SUSTAIN attempted to generate actionable knowledge to contribute to sustainable sanitation access and service delivery, taking into account both the environmental aspects inherent in the water and waste cycle and the differing societal values and political interests of service and resource users. The program resulted in 12 MSc and 4 PhD graduates and a dozen peer-reviewed articles in international journals.
I have a BA from University of Victoria, Canada in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, a Diploma in South Asian Studies, a MSc. in International Environmental Science and a PhD in Sustainability Science from Lund University, Sweden. My doctoral thesis,Uncertain futures – Adaptive capacities to climate variability and change in the lake Victoria Basin (2012) focused on smallholder farmers in the Lake Victoria Basin and their adaptive capacities to climate variability and change. My research highlighted the efforts made by communities themselves, and particularly the more marginalized segments of these communities, to deal with global environmental changes through collective action.
In 2020 I became a Senior lecturer in Sustainability Science at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies.
I am a teacher and thesis supervisor in both LUMES – Lund University Master’s Program in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science and LUMID - Lund University Master's in International Development and Management.
In the LUMES programme I convene the LUMES elective course on Sustainability and Global Health. The course provides global perspectives and local examples of the connections between development, environment and health by highlighting four key emerging and persistent global health challenges;
- the unavoidable health impacts of climate change,
- the prevailing sanitation crises,
- the global dietary paradox,
- the health externalities of global manufacturing and use of electronics
Displaying of publications. Sorted by year, then title.
Sara Gabrielsson is an Associate senior lecturer in Sustainability science at Lund University. Sara’s primary research focus is on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and sustainable development in Africa. Sara’s vision isto facilitate the interaction between academia and sanitation practitioners to enable the spread of sustainable WASH from theory to action.
Impact and communication
Policy brief: Toward Sustainable Menstrual Health Managemant in Tanzania (PDF)
Menskopp bidrar till bättre skolgång för tjejer i Tanzania, Sveriges radio, 2018
Menskopp hjälper unga kvinnor i Tanzania få en bättre skolgång, SVT nyheter, 2018
Kära världen, låt oss prata mera om mens!, Debattartikel i Dagens Arena, 2018
Menstrual cups could help girls attend school in Tanzania, Lunduniversity.lu.se, 2018
"Breaking the Silence" - A film about the challenges with Menstrual Health Management in rural Tanzania