Robert Gonda M.Sc.

Research assistant
Human Geography and Transition Research
Phone: +49 821 598 2296
Room: 1011 (B)
Opening hours: Tuesday 11:00 - 12:00 am
Address: Alter Postweg 118, 86159 Augsburg


(applied filters: semester: current | lecturers: Robert Gonda | course types: all)
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PhD-Project: Managing Scarcity: Political Ecology of the Hydrosocial Cycle at Lake Urmia (Iran)  


Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran was once considered to be the second largest salt lake on earth, about ten times as large as Lake Constance. However, since the mid-1990s, the lake has lost about 80% of its original area and 90% of its water volume. According to scientific studies, both natural and anthropogenic factors are responsible for the desiccation of Lake Urmia. As a result of the international trade embargo, Iran has been trying to supply itself for decades. This includes the production of food. In order to ensure a constant and extensive water supply for the agricultural sector, the Iranian government built around 50 dams in the catchment area of ​​Lake Urmia, while farmers drilled about 90,000 wells. This intensive agriculture, which requires 91% of the fresh water resources, puts the regional water cycle under enormous stress, which ultimately contributes to the slow but sure dissapereance of Lake Urmia.  


As part of my thesis, I focus in particular on the consequences for the rural population. As farmers in the rural regions need most of the water resources, the question arises as to how the primary sector deals with increasing water scarcity. Farmers, as revealed by a first fieldtrip, are struggling with numerous problems, including: sinking groundwater levels, salt infiltration in groundwater, extreme droughts, weed infestation after rainy periods, lack of subsidies by the state, inheritance conflicts, economic and existential Problems.


In order to analyze the situation, especially in the immediate vicinity of Lake Urmia, my work builds on the research of political ecology and the "hydrosocial cycle". Both disciplines are based on the premise that socio-economic and ecological problems are the result of actions conducted and executed by various actors. Thus, farmers, who have an interest in water resources must be identified and their intentions further analyzed. This also includes the investigation of cultural, economic and technical conditions.  


Further research topics:    


  • Transformations in the Global South and Political Ecology     
  • Resource usage and management     
  • Sustainability    
  • Geopolitics    
  • Water management



Work Experience:
  • since 10/2017: Scientific Assistant at Univeristy of Augsburg (Institute for Geography)
  • 09/2016   to 08/2017: Working student at Association for Environmental Management and Sustainability in Financial Institutions e.V.
  • 04/2016 to 07/2016: Internship at Association for Environmental Management and Sustainability in Financial Institutions e.V.
  • 01/2015 to 02/2015: Internship at the Regio Augsburg Wirtschafts GmbH
  • 11/2012 to 04/2016: Working student at CNW-IT Systeme




  • 04/2015 to09/2017: Geographie Master of Science Universität Augsburg

Master Thesis:
Lithium and Cobalt: Will Bolivia and the DR Kongo ensure the rise of electromobility?


  • 09/2011 to 03/2015: Geographie Bachelor of Science Universität Augsburg

Bachelor Thesis:
Analysis of marketing strategies for social-entrepreneurships using the example of „Augsburg isst besser“





  • Schmidt M., Transiskus S., Gonda R. (2019): Environmental degradation at Lake Urmia (Iran): Exploring causes and impacts on rural livelihoods (unveröffentlicht)