Professor Tally Palmer, from Rhodes University, Institute for Water Research (IWR) led a webinar on ‘An adaptive, systemic approach to community-led engaged research’. The webinar was chaired by, Professor Cyril Nhlanhla Mbatha, from Rhodes Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). The presentation by Prof. Palmer was followed by a brief presentation by Dr. Nontuthuzelo Gola from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) on her work on water security in the uMngeni River catchment in South Africa.
Prof. Palmer is the Director of the IWR and the African Research University Alliance (ARUA) Water Centre of Excellence (CoE) hosted by IWR at Rhodes University. Prof. Palmer is a seminal leader in the field of engaged transdisciplinary research and complexity- systems based approaches to integrated water resource management (IWRM).
Dr. Gola works for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and is currently the Ecological Infrastructure Coordinator for the Greater uMngeni Catchment under the ‘Ecological Infrastructure for Water Security’ Project at SANBI. She holds a PhD in Water Resource Science from Rhodes University.
Prof. Palmer led the webinar by introducing the key principles of the ASA concept and how these can be applied to solving water and land related problems in South Africa and across the African continent. The ASA steps summarized by Prof. Palmer during the webinar include:
1. Bounding the project system by bringing together all key stakeholders with their unique knowledge to understand the water / land related issue at hand.
2. An adaptive planning process with key stakeholders to consider the many factors that contribute to and interact to shape the particular water / land issue and develop a plan for addressing the issue.
3. Undertaking research and stakeholder engagement to apply the plan (from 2. above) and attempt to develop participatory governance for addressing the water / land issue.
4. Apply a participatory monitoring, evaluation, reflection and learning process related to the above steps to document lessons learnt and adjust the project plans and objectives from the lessons learnt.
Prof. Palmer indicated that the ARUA Water CoE is applying the ASA in a project called, ‘Unlocking resilient benefits from African water resources (RESBEN)’. This project brings together partners from six universities across Africa and three universities in South Africa to collaborate on research that addresses SDG6: Sustainable water and sanitation for all. One of the key issues that the RESBEN project will focus on is water resources governance and how this strongly influences how we address water and land related issues in Africa. In particular, the focus is on governance that centers around inclusive and participatory decision-making including as many key stakeholders as possible. The project is also founded on a transdisciplinary approach to understanding and managing water issues that are complex and require knowledge inputs from multiple knowledge bases and disciplines.
Dr. Gola added to the presentation by indicating how the ASA is being applied to water management related issues in the uMngeni River Catchment in South Africa. Dr. Gola indicated the importance of participatory planning processes and stakeholder engagement for addressing the existing water issues in the uMngeni.
The webinar was well received by local senior academics and postgraduate students who gained insight into the importance of the adaptive systemic approach for participatory and engaged research that has a real impact on how we manage land and water resource issues in South Africa.
Last Modified: Mon, 29 Mar 2021 11:24:58 SAST
Makerere University has committed to continue the momentum on the international project “Unlocking Resilient Benefits from African Water Resources” (known as RESBEN). The project involves six nodes in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa as well as UK partners. It is funded by UKRI through the ARUA Water Centre of Excellence at Rhodes University, South Africa. The super goal of this project is to produce knowledge that shift water development practice towards greater equity and sustainability.
After a lot of background work dealing with administrative hoops presented by international grants, COVID challenges and cross-country logistics, Uganda convened the first RESBEN country meeting on Feb 5, 2021.
Uganda brought together 17 stakeholders from a mix of backgrounds from formal water institutions including the Ministry of Water and Environment and the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Kampala Capital City Authority as well as top academics from the Universities of Makerere, Rhodes (South Africa, SA), Sheffield and Lancaster (UK).
Prof. Noble Banadda, node lead for Uganda and OR Tambo Research Chair and Chair of the Department of Agricultural and BioSystems Engineering at Makerere University, opened the session and welcomed participants. After participants’ short introduction, Professor Tally Palmer, Principal Investigator of RESBEN, gave a project overview and explained the Adaptive Systemic Approach that underpins RESBEN. This approach considers the close interconnection of complex social and ecological systems. In attending to complexity, Prof Palmer stressed the importance of linking social sciences with natural sciences as well as the equal representation of diverse stakeholders at the discussion table.
The opening was followed by Prof Banadda’s presentation of the background to project in Uganda. In particular, he explained the Ugandan node will look to understand the sources, pathways and impact of pollution in urban water and will compare findings with other urban water research nodes in Lagos (Nigeria) and Cape Town (SA)
MA students recruited as research assistants will play an important role in shedding light on the backbone of pathways of water pollution. Sandra Mutesi and Christine Namuddu gave two sterling presentations about preliminary thoughts on their research directions. Ms Mutesi, who will complete a MA in natural sciences, is considering looking at pollutants in Nakivubo water drainage channel and fish at Ggaba landing site and into Lake Victoria, including pollutants in fish and water. From the social sciences angle, Ms Christine Namuddu plans to examine the relationship between the local people and the water governance institutions and identifying potential indicators of change.
After the presentation, Prof Banadda opened the floor to questions. Dr Florence Adongo from the Ministry of Water expressed her interest in being involved in the project and facilitating data for the MA students to conduct their literature review. Similarly, Chris Kanyesigye from NWSC reported that they have done two phases of Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP) research into this area and is happy to share findings to inform the literature review and methodology.
Other participants including Prof Vanessa Speight, Dr Sally Weston (Sheffield) and Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero (Lancaster Environment Centre) agreed that the research projects look exciting and proposed ways to facilitate methodological and contextual dialogue between the two students so their work complement and strength each other.
The Ugandan node is in the process of revisiting its approach to engaging a wide range of stakeholders including local residents, civil society, non-governmental organisations and private business and
Although the agenda was busy and the meeting was well attended, the chair managed to create an engaging and dynamic atmosphere and kept the meeting running to time!
Last Modified: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 10:52:41 SAST
United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced the outcomes of its African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) partnership research programme to tackle global challenges such as disease, poverty, climate change, fragile states and food insecurity. This research programme is a key part of UKRI’s three-year partnership with ARUA, developed through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), to strengthen pan Africa-UK collaborations across all disciplines, mobilise excellence and build robust research ecosystems across Africa.
UKRI works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and governments to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. ARUA is a network of universities from different countries and different historical backgrounds, but with a shared vision. It aims to enhance research and graduate training in member universities through several channels, including the setting up of Centres of Excellence to be hosted by member universities. The ARUA-UKRI research programme has two strands: Capacity Building to support the 13 ARUA Centres of Excellence, and Research Excellence to support four multidisciplinary and multinational projects addressing the UN’s SDGs; the latter is the one that has been just announced.
The Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University is one of the four cross-cutting Excellence award winners. Professor Carolyn Palmer is leading the project titled “Unlocking resilient benefits from African water resources” (more information at https://www.ru.ac.za/iwr/aruacoe/). The awards for the Centres of Excellence will enable the awarded Centres of Excellence to develop into expert hubs where leading researchers, alongside a new generation of researchers, collaborate and undertake world-class research across priority themes including energy, water conservation, urbanisation and food security. The four joint research excellence projects will help forge new relationships and synergies between the ARUA Centres of Excellence and UK-based GCRF researchers. They together will build on existing activities to develop new proposals and projects aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Both aspects of the research programme will help strengthen and expand Africa’s crucial research base (see https://www.ru.ac.za/iwr/aruacoe/about/ for more details).
Rhodes University’s Director for Institute for Water Research, Professor Carolyn Palmer said the Institute was thrilled to be part of the international research consortium. “Water is fundamental to thriving human life and society, and people are inextricably part of the natural environment. But with growing demands on water across Africa, and increasing constraints on supply, there is an urgent need for new research, methodologies and practices to meet the SDGs and realise the Africa Water Vision 2025” she said.
The research will see a collaboration that will bring together researchers from South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and the UK, to form an African water research cohort, addressing water-related SDGs, with community engagement to catalyse change. Previously, the Water CoE was also successfully awarded an UKRI GCRF Capacity Building Grant entitled Water for African SDGs, which commenced in August 2019 with the aim to establish and develop the ARUA Water CoE as an effective, high-performance, hub and network of 8 African Universities’ researchers and post-graduate students. The CoE will use research to catalyse change towards social and ecological justice and sustainability, paying attention to African community water and sanitation needs.
UKRI’s International Champion, Professor Andrew Thompson said: “To sustainably address global challenges, we need a genuine global response and that means forging stronger partnerships that are fair, equitable and fully reciprocal between researchers in the northern and southern hemispheres. This exciting research programme with ARUA is supporting research that transcends national boundaries and will produce different ways of thinking about challenges and different solutions to tackling them.”
ARUA Secretary-General, Professor Ernest Aryeetey said: “I would love to see a world where discussions about global health are influenced by work done in Africa, where discussions about climate change are influenced by African researchers and where African governments and the international academic community listen to African researchers. ARUA’s partnership with UKRI is an important stepping stone to realising this vision.”
Last Modified: Tue, 03 Nov 2020 15:17:47 SAST
A 3-day training course titled Addressing Complex Water and Land Problems: Applying the Adaptive Systemic Approach, was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February 2020. The course was hosted by the University of Addis Ababa, Land and Water Resources Centre (WLRC-AAU), and presented and facilitated by the CoE Director Professor Tally Palmer. Dr Gete Zeleke (Director WLRC- AAU) and Professor Zerihun Woldu (Water CoE Co-Director) opened the course and welcomed participants from all nine nodes, and four UK participants, funded by the UK N8 Universities. Each node sent a senior or mid-career researcher, an early career researcher and a post-graduate student. The course focussed on applying the novel Systemic Adaptive Approach (details of which are found in the handbooks in online resources) which forms the foundation of the research carried out under the GCRF Excellence Grant.
Participants at the ARUA Water CoE foundation course, funded by UKRI:GCRF Capability Grant: Addressing Complex Water and Land Problems: Applying the Adaptive Systemic Approach. The course was hosted by the University of Addis Ababa, Land and Water Resources Centre and presented and facilitated by ARUA Water CoE Director, Professor Tally Palmer.
On Day 2 of the course participants practiced running the Adaptive Planning Process Step of the Adaptive Systemic Approach. The goal was to develop a Strategic Plan for the Water CoE 2020-2024. As part of the Adaptive Planning Process, participants developed a set of common values. These were used as the basis for reviewing the Principles of Ethical Practice first drafted at the launch workshop. Jo Rose from the University of York then facilitated a session on developing an Ethical Code of Practice. The emerging Water CoE Ethical Code of Practice will be reviewed annually. The Safeguarding training planned for later in 2020 will contribute to the first review.
Participants working on course activities.
Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST
Prof Tally Palmer and Dr Jane Tanner travelled to Newcastle University to attend the H7O Global Water Security Symposium from 23-24 January 2020. The UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub invited Prof Tally Palmer to present a Plenary Paper at the Symposium. The paper was entitled: A learning journey of research, policy and practice, the pathway to the Adaptive Systemic Approach.
On 22 January, Dr Walsh convened and chaired the first N8-Water CoE colloquium: Developmental research as catalyst of change towards social-ecological justice. There were 14 delegates present, and 14 participants from five nodes engaged virtually. After a discussion of the ethical implications of developmental research, participants were grouped into three separate virtual discussions for an hour to pursue a discussion of research interests, before returning to the plenary. The CoE has agreed that such Colloquia will become a regular feature of N8 Water CoE collaboration.
The N8 Universities have agreed to make funding available for N8 researchers to collaborate with Water CoE capacity development and research. As a result, four UK researchers travelled to Ethiopia in February 2020 to participate in the first CoE Capacity Development training course.
A screen shot of N8 and Water CoE researchers engaging face-to-face and virtually on 22 January 2020
Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST
The Water CoE was well represented at the Second ARUA Biennial Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference was themed ‘Africa and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Defining a Role for Research Universities’ and was hosted by the University of Nairobi. The Water CoE hosted an early career research workshop on Systems Thinking, focussed on land and water and the Sustainable Development Goals. A conference session on Water was organised by the CoE and Drs Jane Tanner and Isa Kabenge and Prof Serigne Faye presented papers. Prof Tally Palmer presented as part of a panel during the closing session of the conference.
The Water session included presentation by Dr Jane Tanner (IWR, Rhodes University) on Water Resources Assessment Uncertainty in Africa and the Promise of Global Datasets. Dr Isa Kabenge (Makarere University, Uganda) presented on Big Data and Cloud Computing in Water Resources Management focusing on a Case Study on Land-Use Change in Planted Forests. Prof Serigne Faye (UCAD, Senegal) presented on the Value of Bibliometric Methods to Track and Assess High Impact Research in African Soil and Water Literature.
Water CoE representatives at the conference including 6 Early Career Researchers from the Centre partner institutions.
There were 18 participants who attended the CoE workshop on Systems Thinking, and the workshop materials (creative SDG images) were designed by the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC), Rhodes University.
Water CoE workshop: All participants
Water CoE workshop: Participants build a systemic picture of the SDGs
Water CoE workshop: ELRC materials being used in the workshop
Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST
In early 2019, the Water CoE and partners developed a proposal for a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Capability Grant entitled Water for African SDGs. This was successfully awarded and the grant commenced in August 2019 with the aim to establish and develop the ARUA Water CoE as an effective, high-performance, hub and network of 8 African Universities’ researchers and post-graduate students. The CoE will use research to catalyse change towards social and ecological justice and sustainability, paying attention to African community water and sanitation needs.
The project team brings together diverse strengths in the area of water, so the nodes can flexibly link and respond innovatively to research funding calls, and effectively apply research. The Capability Grant proposal includes capacity-building, exchanges and mentorship and this was envisioned through the development and delivery of courses by each node, as well as skill transfer grants. However, the changed COVID-19 situation across the world since the project was submitted for funding, has put most travel to a halt. This will impact on the delivery of the planned courses for the next 2.5 years. Thus, we have conceptualised a shift in the delivery of the project through transferring of in-person courses to online courses, either as open courses or as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). This alternative way of delivery of courses will not only build the capacity of the nodes but will additionally leave behind a legacy for future learners using case studies and contexts from Africa.
The Water CoE has developed a systemic image of the SDGs as a planning, practice and evaluation tool. The image has SDG 6, Clean water and sanitation, at the centre, linking two primary water cycles: i) Water in a Catchment (rainfall, run-off, ground water recharge, evapotranspiration, evaporation); and ii) Water Services – supply and sanitation (raw water from the natural resource, often in dams, pipes and pumps to water treatment works, treated potable water to households, waste water to treatment works and discharge into the natural resource). Each CoE node has strengths in different parts of these cycles for effectively applying research.
Last Modified: Tue, 03 Nov 2020 15:17:47 SAST
The CoE was formally launched by Dr Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA Secretary General, at an event hosted by Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela on 27th May 2019. The launch was part of an Inception workshop 26-30 May 2019, where eight of the CoE nodes were represented and a strong, vibrant network emerged from the process (UKZN joined in 2020). We collectively agreed on the CoE name, research focus and direction, principles of collaboration, and began the process of building a directory of CoE researchers and their expertise.
Water Centre of Excellence delegates at the Inception workshop, with ARUA Secretary General Professor Ernest Aryeetey. (Top from left: Professor Serigne Faye (U Cheikh Anta Diop), Professor Joel Norbert (U Dar es Salaam), Dr David Mfitumukiza (Makerere U), Dr Nsengimana Venuste (U Rwanda); Dr Christian Sekomo (U Rwanda); Dr Kevin Winter (UCT), Dr Deogratias Mulungu (U Dar es Salaam); Professor Alioune Kane (U Senegal); Dr Isa Kabenge (Makerere U). Front from left Professor Noble Banadda (Makerere U), Dr Jane Tanner (Rhodes U) Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Professor Tally Palmer (Rhodes U), Dr Tena Alamirew (U Addis Ababa). Delegates from the University of Lagos (Prof Ezechiel Longe and Dr James Akanmu) joined later.
CoE partners workshopping their vision of the CoE.
From Left: Professor Ernest Aryeetey (Secretary-General of ARUA), Dr Christian Sekomo (U Rwanda, Rwanda), Professor Alioune Kane (U Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal), Dr Kevin Winter (U Cape Town), Dr Tena Alamirew (U Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Prof Ezechiel Longe (U Lagos, Nigeria), Professor Serigne Faye (U Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal), Dr Deogratias Mulungu (U Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Dr Jane Tanner (Rhodes U, South Africa), Professor Joel Norbert (U Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Dr James Akanmu (U Lagos, Nigeria), Dr Nsengimana Venuste (U Rwanda, Rwanda), Dr David Mfitumukiza (Makerere U, Uganda), Dr Isa Kabenge (Makerere U, Uganda), Professor Noble Banadda (Makerere U, Uganda), Professor Tally Palmer (Rhodes U, South Africa)
Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST