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CARNEGIE - RISE (Regional Initiative in Science and Education)

CARNEGIE - RISE (Regional Initiative in Science and Education)

Sub-Saharan Africa Water Resources Network

The RISE programme is aimed at strengthening higher education in the sciences and engineering by increasing the population of skilled Ph.D. and M.Sc. scientists and engineers teaching in Africa's universities. RISE is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding". The Science Initiative Group (SIG) housed within the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton University, New Jersey, USA, is leading the RISE initiative in consultation with African partners including the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), based in Nairobi, Kenya. AAS are the initiative's co-administrator (http://sites.ias.edu/sig/rise).

New Funding Call 2011 (PDF)

The Institute for Advanced Study provides the administrative home for SIG whose mission is to strengthen science and its use in the developing world. It has helped create research and training programs in Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Uganda, financed by The World Bank and governments.

The mission of the African Academy of Sciences is to provide leadership in science and technology (S&T) innovations in Africa and to bring S&T solutions to bear on the socioeconomic challenges that Africa is currently facing.

Sub-Saharan African Water Resources Network

The Sub-Saharan African Water Resource Network (SSAWRN) is one of five networks that has received funding through the Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE: see http://sites.ias.edu/sig/rise) for the initial period of 2008-2010. The objective of the network is to develop academic capacity in sub-Saharan Africa in the field of water resource science. This network will build upon existing networks related to the same scientific field, including the UNESCO Southern Africa FRIEND (Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data) programme and WATERNET. The FRIEND programme is largely a research network, but it has an emphasis on post-graduate student development and links to the national water management agencies in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). WATERNET is a regional (southern and east Africa) network of 52 university departments and research and training institutes, with the objectives to build regional institutional and human capacity in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). WATERNET has very similar objectives to RISE and one of its main activities is the regional course-work MSc in water resources.

Further information can be found about these two programmes through the following links:

  • www.ru.ac.za/institutes/iwr/friend/index.html
  • www.waternetonline.ihe.nl

The institutions in the Sub-Saharan Africa Water Resources Network are:

Academic Director:
Prof. Denis A Hughes
Institute for Water Research
Rhodes University, South Africa

The secretariat located at the Institute for Water Research can be contacted at:
e-mail: RISE-SAWater[at]ru.ac.za
fax: +27 46 6229427

Water Resource Problems, Science and Solutions

Water resource science should be seen as a multi- and inter-disciplinary science that addresses the problems and issues associated with managing water resources, including surface and groundwater water quantity, water quality and related ecological dependencies, water use and its management. The focus in sub-Saharan Africa needs to be on fundamental and applied science that can contribute to the solution of the diverse problems facing the region in terms of securing adequate (in terms of quantity and quality) water supplies that are environmentally sustainable. There are many water related pressures facing the region, including declining observation networks (and therefore a decline in the information available for management), declining human capacity, increasing resource use and the very real possibility of increasing resource variability associated with future climates. As the region strives toward improving both political and economic stability, the importance of providing secure water supplies will assume increasing significance. If this is neglected, there is the potential for conflicts within communities (through a lack of water and sanitation services provision) as well as between countries (through a lack of agreement on transboundary sharing of water resources).

The development of solutions to sub-Saharan Africa water resource problems is currently hindered by a shortage of trained personnel, especially at high levels of academic and professional expertise. This gap is frequently filled by consultants from outside the region who may contribute to the solution of specific problems, but do little to contribute to longer-term development of capacity within the region. The SSAWRN has been designed to contribute to the development of this capacity using existing networks of university scientists within the region who also work closely with and have the support of local water resource professionals and scientists outside the region.

The principle mode of operation will be to identify and support post- graduate students who have a good potential to complete a PhD over approximately a 3-year time frame (preceded by either taught course or research MSc or MPhil degrees in some cases). The support will include financial support, project development support, supervision and mentorship. The assumption is that some of these students will continue after graduation as post-doctoral fellows and/or departmental staff. In other cases, the SSAWRN will assist wherever possible in finding appropriate job opportunities for the continuance of their careers. The project will therefore also establish further (we already have many of these) contacts with commercial consultancy companies and state water management agencies. All students will be encouraged to interact with each other to develop a culture of multi-disciplinary problem solving and to participate in consultancy work that might be undertaken by the various collaborating institutions from time to time.

Research Areas

There are many research opportunities in the field of water resource science within sub-Saharan Africa and covering many basic disciplines including civil engineering, geography, hydrology, ecology, water quality, geology and environmental science. The research plan is partly aligned with the objectives of the Southern Africa FRIEND programme which has already identified many of the issues associated with water resource development in the region. The national water management agencies of southern Africa are represented on the SA FRIEND steering committee and they are well placed to identify priority areas for research in their countries. The emphasis will be on identifying research projects that have the potential to address real issues and contribute to solving water resource management problems in the region. The SA FRIEND programme has not covered issues of water quality and environmental sustainability during its previous phases, despite the fact that these have been recognized as important by the steering committee. The SSAWRN proposes to incorporate a water quality research component and integrate quantity-quality issues associated with water resource management in the region.

The following list offers some suggestions of the type of projects that could be undertaken:

  • Regional water resource assessments incorporating the impacts of climate change, developments (abstractions, hydro-power, land-use, etc.) and allowing for estimation uncertainty.
  • Development of appropriate methods for practical water resource assessments in the region.
  • Combined use of groundwater and surface water in different development situations.
  • Finding management solutions to the integration of water demand and the need for environmental sustainability under different situations.
  • Improved understanding of natural hydrological and aquatic ecological processes.
  • Improved understanding and modelling of water quantity-quality relationships.
  • Improved understanding of the impacts of changes in environmental water quality on aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity conservation.
  • Improved understanding of the links between environmental water quality and water borne diseases that affect humans (such a cholera).
  • Development of diagnostic biotic indices that distinguish between various anthropogenic impacts such as dams, sewage treatment plants, agriculture, etc.
  • Improved understanding of the impacts of groundwater quality on surface water quality and subsequent impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

Networking and Information Exchange

The staff and students in the SSAWRN are expected to get together as a group on an annual basis and exchange research experiences. This is designed to foster a multi-disciplinary approach to water resource science research. Opportunities to achieve this are presented by (for example) the annual WATERNET conference, the biennial SANCIAHS (South African National Committee for the International Association of Hydrological Sciences) conference or the annual SASAQS (South Africa Society for Aquatic Sciences) conference. All students will be encouraged to present papers at these regional conferences, while limited participation at international conferences will also be encouraged. The programme will also organize an annual seminar/symposium of the RISE participants, inviting additional organizations (from within the region and elsewhere) who may contribute to the post-graduate students exposure to research methods. The students will also be expected to submit regular electronic progress reports (biannually) that will be submitted to AAS/SIG and posted on the SSAWRN web site.

From a hydrological point of view, some of the nodes have existing links with the IAHS PUB (Predictions in Ungauged Basins) programme, which represents a large international network of scientists working on improving hydrological and water resource estimation techniques. From a water quality point of view, the Institute for Water Research is a participant in the Aquatox Forum, a network of scientists in tertiary institutions, government and industry working on improving aquatic ecotoxicological methods and understanding of the application of these techniques in improving water resource management. HOORC has links with the Global Wetland Consortium.

SSAWRN Institutions / Nodes

The Institute for Water Research is currently well placed to supervise a number of students with two experienced supervisors in Prof Hughes (hydrology and water resource management) and Dr Nikite Muller (water quality and ecotoxicology), as well as access to additional supervisors through junior research staff and through allied departments at Rhodes University. The IWR currently supervises 7 PhD and 3 MSc students. The IWR has many links with research institutions within sub-Saharan Africa, as well as outside the region. It is well placed to organize additional support through specialized training workshops, scientific exchanges with other universities and additional supervision for students being trained as part of the proposed network.

University of Botswana (Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre - HOORC) is situated near Maun, Botswana's northwestern Ngamiland capital on the fringe of the Okavango Delta. HOORC specialises in natural resource management research, with a primary focus on influencing policy makers on the region's most pressing environmental issues. Multi- disciplinary in approach, the Centre initiates, coordinates and promotes research and assists with environmental monitoring. It aims to develop and implement educational strategies for the sustainable use of resources in order to promote the long-term conservation of the Okavango and other regional wetlands. Employing 25 academic staff and 35 support staff, HOORC has over 50 research and development projects in progress in a wide range of scientific fields, many in collaboration with international partners. HOORC is a member of the international Global Wetland Consortium.

Makerere University, Uganda (Various departments). The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FVM) has capacity in water related sciences particularly aquatic toxicology and aquatic environmental health. In addition, there is a young network which has been formed, the Makerere waternetwork, whose membership is broad with both senior and upcoming researchers, with interest in water sciences. The faculty also works closely with the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute in training and research. This institute particularly has enormous technical capacity in water sciences.

Eduardo Mondlane University (Department of Geology) in Mozambique is able to supervise MSc students and to host a post-doctoral fellowship. This capacity has been assumed during the first phase of the project, but the intention is to increase the capacity during the project and to ensure that their MSc students are given every opportunity to register for PhD degrees.

Last Edited: June 13 2013 16:09:37.      Print
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