Who we are

IWMI SoLAR Project Implementation Team



Interim coordinator

Dr. Alok Sikka supports the groundwater component for India and Bangladesh. He is the Country Representative, of India, at IWMI. He has more than 40 years of experience in varied water-related fields. He has a PhD from Utah State University, USA.



Project Research

Country Representatives


Dr Mohsin Hafeez is the Country Representative, of Pakistan at IWMI. He has over 20 years of experience in hydrology and academia across Germany, Australia, the UK, China and Pakistan. He holds a PhD in Engineering (Hydrology) from the University of Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.



Dr Manohara Khadka is the overall lead for the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) component and brings over 2 decades of experience in varied portfolios across agriculture, water resources and climate change. At IWMI, she is the Nepal Country Representative. She has a PhD in Development Studies from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, the Netherlands.




Country Leads
Dr Deepak Varshney
Archisman Mitra


Shisher Shrestha


Dr Azeem Ali Shah


Our Researchers

Dr. Marie-Charlotte Buisson Dr Paul Pavelic Muhammad Zain Bin Akbar  
Mohammed Faiz Alam 
Labisha Uprety
Smaranika Mahapatra

Communications Officer

  Aariz Raza  

Administration and Finance

  Gurpreet Kaur Dhawan  
Dr Deepak Varshney is the country lead for India. He joined IWMI Office in New Delhi effective 01 July 2022 as a Researcher – Impact Assessment. He is an Economist and has over 9 years of experience in academia and national and international research organizations. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India. At IWMI, Deepak will be responsible for providing implementation assistance and research support to the SDC-SoLAR project and will closely work with the Regional Project Leader, for ensuring rigorous evidence generation from large-scale producers and demonstration pilots in India and Nepal.
Dr Azeem Ali Shah is the Country Lead for Pakistan. He is the Principal Researcher for the Governance of Water Institutions at IWMI. He has more than 15 years of research and policy-related experience in varied themes of water. He holds a PhD in Management Sciences from the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan.
Shisher Shrestha has over 10 years of hands-on experience in Nepal’s renewable energy sector, with expertise in Solar Irrigation and Project Management. He is an Electronics Engineer and holds an M.Sc. degree focused on Renewable Energy from the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
Archisman Mitra is the Country Lead for Bangladesh. He is an economist and an experienced survey manager with an M.A. in Economics from New York University, USA.
Dr Marie-Charlotte Buisson leads the impact assessment component in Bangladesh. She has more than 10 years research experience in Africa, South East Asia, and Central Asia. She obtained her PhD from the Central Extension Resources Development Institute (CERDI) in France.
Dr Paul Pavelic is a groundwater specialist with over 2 decades of research experience. He supports the groundwater component for India and Bangladesh and holds a PhD in Groundwater Hydrology from the Flinders University of South Australia.
Muhammad Zain Bin Akbar plays a supportive role in a variety of components of the project in Pakistan. At IWMI he is Research Officer for Policy and Water Governance. He has almost 2 years of experience coordinating research, assessments and evaluation studies for projects in Pakistan. He holds an M.Sc. in Economics from Heidelberg University in Germany.
Mohammed Faiz Alam is a groundwater specialist and supports the groundwater component in India and Bangladesh. He has 5 years of experience and holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
Labisha Uprety supports the GESI component. At IWMI, she is a Researcher for Policy and Water Governance. She has 5 years of experience in research and communications and holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from Erasmus University, Netherlands.
Smaranika Mahapatra works as a Research Officer-Water Resources Management at IWMI Delhi. She holds a master’s degree in Land and Water Resources Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-Kharagpur) and has more than 5 years of research experience. She supports the groundwater component under the SoLAR-SA project in Bangladesh.
Aariz Raza is a creative designer with three years of professional experience in designing the content of brands and businesses. A graduate of the University of Manchester, he has a firm grip on global visual conceptualization. Aariz had created content for the print and online editions of a UK-based art and culture magazine, aah-magazine.co.uk, and had worked with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to develop a sustainable design for the Pomona island in Manchester, UK. Designing aesthetically compelling content is his forte
Gurpreet Kaur Dhawan is a bachelor’s in Humanities from Delhi University and has more than nine years of experience in administration and finance. She worked as an Administrative Assistant with UNICEF, India, before joining us in April 2022 in place of Mansi Chopra. Under the supervision of IWMI-India’s Administrative and Finance Manager and the Country Representative, she provides administrative, financial, and logistical support to the SoLAR South Asia project. Gurpreet is based at our New Delhi office.

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