Institute for Water Research


Incorporating the Centre for Environmental Water Quality
and the ARUA Water Center of Excellence

Grahamstown - South Africa


The objectives of the IWR are to contribute to the knowledge of and promote the understanding and wise use of natural water resources in southern Africa.

These objectives are achieved in a number of ways:

  • Research into the structure, function and components of natural water systems
  • Contract projects aimed at solving specific water-related problems
  • Teaching at all levels within Rhodes University
  • Dissemination of information by written articles and public lectures
  • Service on research and management committees outside Rhodes University
  • Capacity building and community education for the water sector How to Handbooks
  • Practising Adaptive IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) in South Africa

You can read our latest Annual Report


For information on Grahamstown and South African  water resources and what you can do, please see the RU Environment page.

SAM Workshop 2020

The IWR operates using collective, co-operative Strategic Adaptive Management – the process we teach in Adaptive Water Resources Management, and practice in our engaged research projects. SAM comprises Adaptive Planning, Adaptive Implementation, Reflection and Review, and cycles back to planning in the light of change. We engage in a full Adaptive Planning Process biennially, and adaptive reflection and adjustment in the alternate years. Our weekly meetings include review and reflection on implementation progress through the year. 2020 saw the full Adaptive Planning Process facilitated on-line by Lucy O’Keeffe over three days.

Here is the summary report.


Leading Integrated Research in Africa (LIRA) for Agenda 2030 a project for "Enhancing urban wetland and river ecosystem health"
We are pleased to announce the launch of the African Water Resources Mobility Network (AWaRMN) Programme call for Msc/MTech.


RUCE Podcast Series: “Into the messy spaces”


“If you were to ask in the modern university how much engaged research there is, it would be very, very small and we are living in an era when society is pushing back at universities and saying, ‘for us to see that you are valuable we want to see you take the risk of getting in to the messy spaces of real life’.”

Professor Tally Palmer, Director of the Institute of Water Research, won the 2018 VC’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award for her championing of ‘engaged research’ – research that partners with communities and shares knowledge and information, rather than imposes knowledge or extracts information.

Instead of giving a lecture, Tally decided to engage and invited the community to a workshop – Makana: Water Works For Everyone. Hear what happened that night in the City Hall and find out more about a new kind of research for the 21stCentury.

You can listen to the full podcast here:

IWR Plastic Policy Statement

The Institute for Water Research supports calls for an end to the use of single-use plastic water bottles except in emergency situations. The environmental and health consequences of the manufacture, transportation, use and disposal of these bottles are well documented. The Institute does not supply single-use plastic water bottles for meetings, alumni events, conferences, etc. and requires catering suppliers to comply with this. Both staff and students are encouraged to make use of multi-use water bottles.

Information on single use plastic can be obtained by following the link to the Makana Plastic Action Group