Smiley Photo

Sarah L. Smiley

Department of Geography
Contact Information


I am an urban geographer with research interests in water and development.  I use multiple qualitative methods including surveys, interviews, participant observation, spatial video, mental mapping, and archival research.  I am specifically interested in the ways that colonial legacies of segregation and inequitable housing and amenity provision affect everyday life in Sub-Saharan Africa.  My current research project analyzes what access to water really means.  In particular I explore how the price, availability, reliability, and quality of water along with the physical act of walking to collect it impact water access.  I am based at the Salem Campus where I teach a variety of Kent Core and Diversity Courses, and I also teach graduate courses on Water and Society and on African Cities on the Kent Campus.


The University of Kansas, PhD in Geography (2007), The University of Kansas, MA in Geography (2003), The University of Cincinnati, BA in Geography (2000)


Sub-Saharan Africa, Urban Geography, Water Resources, Development


  • Smiley, S., A. Zakrajsek, and K. Fletcher. 2021. Leadership Journeys: Reflections on Experiences and Challenges from Women in Academic Leadership. Journal of Women in Educational Leadership 277.
  • Agbemor, B. and S. Smiley. 2021. Risk Factors in Water Sector Public-Private Partnership Projects and Mitigation Measures: Lessons from the Asutifi North District, Ghana. H2Open 4, 1: 77–91.
  • Agbemor, B. and S. Smiley. 2021. Tensions Between Formal and Informal Water Providers: Receptivity Toward Mechanised Boreholes in the Sunyani West District, Ghana. Journal of Development Studies 57, 3: 383-399.
  • Smiley, S., B. Agbemor, E. Adams, and R. Tutu. 2020. COVID-19 and Water Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana’s Free Water Directive May Not Benefit Water Insecure Households. African Geographical Review 39, 4: 398-404.
  • Smiley, S. and H. Hambati. 2020. Using Photograph Interpretation to Understand Household Perceptions of Floods in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Papers in Applied Geography. 6, 2: 159-173.
  • Smiley, S. and J. Stoler. 2020. Socio-environmental Confounders of Safe Water Interventions. WIRES Water. 7:e1438.
  • Smiley, S. 2020. Heterogeneous Water Provision in Dar es Salaam: The Role of Networked Infrastructures and Alternative Systems in Informal Areas. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.
  • Hungerford, H., Smiley, S., et al. 2019. Coping with Floods in Pikine, Senegal: An Exploration of Household Impacts and Prevention Efforts. Urban Science 3, 2, 54;
  • Smiley, S. 2019. Explaining improvements and continuing challenges in water access in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Journal of Water Resources Development 35, 6: 959-976.
  • Smiley, S. and H. Hambati. 2019. Impacts of Flooding on Drinking Water Access in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Implications for the Sustainable Development Goals. Journal of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene for Development 9, 2: 392-396.
  • Adams, E., D. Sambu, and S. Smiley. 2019. Urban Water Supply in Sub-Saharan Africa: Historical and Emerging Policies and Institutional Arrangements. International Journal of Water Resources Development 35, 2: 240-263.
  • Adams, E. and S. Smiley. 2018. Urban-Rural Water Access Inequalities in Malawi: Implications for Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals. Natural Resources Forum 42, 4: 217-226.
  • Smiley, S. 2017. Impacts of Improved Water Access on Water Vendors and Resellers. Tanzanian Journal of Population Studies and Development 24, 1-2.
  • Smiley, S. 2017. Quality Matters: Incorporating Water Quality into Water Access Monitoring in Rural Malawi. Water International 42, 3: 585-598.
  • Smiley, S., A. Curtis, and J. Kiwango. 2017. Using Spatial Video to Analyze and Map the Water Fetching Path in Challenging Environments: A Case Study of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases 2, 8; doi:10.3390/tropicalmed20200
  • Smiley, S. 2017. Teaching Cultural Geography with “The Amazing Race”. Journal of Geography 116, 3: 109-118.
  • Smiley, S. 2017. Defining and Measuring Water Access in Tanzania: Lessons for Moving Forward in the post-Millennium Development Goal Era. African Geographical Review 36, 2: 168-182.
  • Smiley, S. 2016. Water Availability and Reliability in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies 52, 9: 1320-1334.
  • Hungerford, H. and S. Smiley. 2016. Comparing Colonial Water Provision in British and French Africa. Journal of Historical Geography 52: 74-83.
  • Curtis, A., J. Blackburn, S. Smiley, et al. 2016. Mapping to Support Fine Scale Epidemiological Cholera Investigations: A Case Study of Spatial Video in Haiti. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13 (2), 187; doi: 10.3390/ij
  • Kusek, W. and S. Smiley. 2014. Navigating the City: Gender and Positionality in Cultural Geography Research. Journal of Cultural Geography 31, 2: 152-165.
  • Smiley, S. and C. Post. 2014. Using Popular Culture to Teach the Geography of the United States and Canada. Journal of Geography 113, 6: 238-246.
  • Smiley, S. 2013. Complexities of Water Access in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Applied Geography 41, 132-138.
  • Smiley, S. 2013. Mental Maps, Segregation, and Everyday Life in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Journal of Cultural Geography 30, 2: 215-244.
  • Smiley, S. 2010. Exclusionary Space in Dar es Salaam: Fear and Difference in Expatriate Communities. Africa Today 56, 3: 24–40.
  • Smiley, S. 2010. Expatriate Everyday Life in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Colonial Origins and Contemporary Legacies. Social and Cultural Geography 11, 4: 327–342.
  • Smiley, S. 2009. The City of Three Colors: Segregation in Colonial Dar es Salaam, 1891-1961. Historical Geography 37: 178-196.


Association of American Geographers, Africa Specialty Group (AAG)