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 News articles are listed in reverse order of publication.

The ARUA Resilient Benefits Project supports collaborative planning for integrated watershed management in Ethiopia.

News article on the recent Adaptive Planning Process workshop


Last Modified: Thu, 18 Aug 2022 09:23:46 SAST

Engaging stakeholders in adaptive planning to shift water management issues in Lake Guiers, Senegal River Basin

By Rebecca Powell, ARUA Water CoE Postdoctoral Research Fellow

18 February, 2022

The Senegal Country Partner or ‘Node’ of the ARUA-UKRI Research Excellence Grant conducted an Adaptive Planning Process (APP) workshop from 30 November – 1 December, 2021 at Dior Hotel in Saint-Louis, Senegal. This was a two-day workshop with researchers from the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar and key stakeholders who are intimately interested and involved in water and ecosystem management issues in the Lake Guiers area of the Senegal River Basin. The aim of the workshop was to facilitate a shared space in which the stakeholders and researchers could share concerns and knowledge of the issues in Lake Guiers, and collectively agree on a vision towards improved water and ecosystem management.

Workshop participants including the Senegal Node facilitation team from the University of Cheikh Anta Diop and key stakeholders of the Lake Guiers.

Figure: Workshop participants including the Senegal Node facilitation team from the University of Cheikh Anta Diop and key stakeholders of the Lake Guiers.


The workshop was facilitated by members of the Senegal research team including the two project leaders, Prof Serigne Faye and Prof Alioune Kane with pre-workshop advisory and training support from the ARUA Water CoE Team, namely Dr Matthew Weaver, Dr Notiswa Libala and Dr Rebecca Powell. The group of more than 20 workshop participants (see Figure) had divergent roles and interests in the Lake Guiers and included private and government water and agriculture management agencies, agro-industry, water users and researchers.

The APP is a component of Strategic Adaptive Management (SAM) and is a step-by-step facilitated process of engagement of interested and affected parties around a particular environmental management issue – in this case a water management issue. The goal is to develop a set of objectives or an ‘action plan’ towards effectively addressing the issue with time and to adapt the vision and objectives through ongoing reflection and learning.

The agreed vision by the group during the Senegal APP workshop was:   

"A better knowledge and efficient and participatory management of the Guiers basin for water security by 2035 ". This vision was underpinned by five common values which included: Commitment, Equity, Solidarity, Consideration and Courage. The group then agreed on a set of objectives that would action towards achieving this vision with time with a focus on:

  1. Identification of actors/roles and establishment of a digital platform of stakeholders of Lake Guiers. This census would facilitate the identification of actors and uses to better estimate current needs and make forecasts on future demands and uses of water;
  2. Identification of degradation factors, to set up mitigation and attenuation strategies but also to raise awareness of the harmful impacts of pollutants around the Lake in the specific commune of Mbane.

The success of the workshop was enabled by the ability of the facilitators to create a space where participants could openly express, either verbally or in writing, concerns and opinions related to management issues in Lake Guiers.  This was important as each stakeholder group or individual present at the workshop had different experiences related to access to water and governance, and personal background in relation to water issues in the Guiers Basin. Women in particular can be marginalized in decision making and were therefore particularly encouraged to voice their concerns and knowledge. Going forward, the Senegal and ARUA Water CoE Teams will host a follow-up stakeholder workshop in 2022 with particular focus on how APP and SAM are linked and how the principles of SAM can be taken up and applied in the Lake Guiers key actors.

Last Modified: Mon, 28 Feb 2022 15:57:10 SAST

Rwanda’s wetlands conservation: A webinar organized in line with the celebration of the World Wetland Day 2022

CoEBUniversity of Rwanda


By Venant Nzibaza, Research Assistant for RESBEN in Social Science

University of Rwanda, Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (CoEB)

The World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. Its aim is to raise the global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands signed on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar city, Iran. In this regard, the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (CoEB), based in the College of Science and Technology, University of Rwanda hosted a webinar to discuss the current status of wetlands conservation in Rwanda, and to explore the challenges and opportunities.

The webinar was organized on 2 February 2022, where six speakers from three institutions participated. These were Mr. Alphonse Nzarora (Research Assistant for the UKRI-funded ARUA Water CoE project titled ‘Unlocking Resilient Benefits form African Water Resources’[RESBEN] and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Rwanda), Professor  Elias Bizuru (Research Associate of the CoEB and lecturer at the University of Rwanda),Mr. Jean Ferus Niyomwungeri (Community Conservation Programme Manager at Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association), Dr. Deo Ruhagazi (Senior Programme Manager and Veterinarian at Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association), Mrs Christelle Suavis Iradukunda (Bugesera Landscape Manager at Albertine Rift Conservation Society, ARCOS) and Mrs Brigitte Kanyamugenge (Head of Community Development Programme at ARCOS). The webinar was attended by 104 participants and took place on google meet. Participants came from different disciplines across the planet. The recording of the webinar can be found here.

Alphonse Nzarora in his presentation stressed the importance of using biological indicators in water quality monitoring. He specified that one of the benefits of the use of bioindicators is their ability to indicate some of the indirect effects of pollutants that cannot be indicated by physical and chemical measurements. He also added that biological assessment of water quality is comparatively cost-efficient and requires basic equipment compared to the use of physicochemical properties. He concluded that biological indicators could be an answer where financial limitations are an issue for monitoring water quality.

Elias Bizuru presented about the sustainable use of wetlands in Rwanda. He highlighted different ecosystem services provided by wetlands and mentioned some of the opportunities and challenges faced by wetland conservation in Rwanda. The opportunities include the availability of water for irrigation and the rich biodiversity while challenges include invasive species and pollution from inorganic pollutants from agriculture.

Example of a restored wetland in Rwanda (Rugezi wetland), the only Ramsar wetland in Rwanda that has been restored in 2004. Photo by Prof. Elias Bizuru.

Example of a restored wetland in Rwanda (Rugezi wetland), the only Ramsar wetland in Rwanda that has been restored in 2004. Photo by Prof. Elias Bizuru.

Christelle Iradukunda and Mr. Brigitte Kanyamugenge presented about the efforts made by ARCOS to restore the Amasangano wetland located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The Amasangano wetland is located at the confluence between Akanyaru and Nyabarongo Rivers. This wetland was recently impacted by unsustainable agriculture, invasive species, unsustainable fishing and quarries for clay extraction. Additional challenges in the area include droughts and floods while opportunities include tourism activities.

Jean Ferus Niyomwungeri and Mr. Deo Ruhagazi shared a pre-recorded video about the work of RWCA to protect wetlands that are home to endangered grey crowned cranes. According to the video shared during the webinar, RWCA has restored Umusambi village, a privately owned touristic wetland located at Kabuga, in Kigali city. The restored wetland is now home to cranes. Further, the video revealed an almost doubling in the number of cranes in Rwanda from 487 in 2017 to 997 in 2021.

In the open discussion, Dr. Deo Ruhagazi mentioned that wetlands in Rwanda are divided into three classes. He said that some wetlands are fully protected, others are conditionally used while others are unconditionally used. Fully protected wetlands are only for conservation and no activity should take place there except conservation activity. Wetlands which are used conditionally can be used for limited activities such as organic agriculture while wetlands which are used unconditionally can be used for any activity according to preferences of the owner.


This webinar was an opportunity to share experience among different researchers working in different organizations and those who have a stake in wetland conservation. All discussions were intended to guide future research and restoration activities. The webinar stressed the importance of checking the class of the wetland, whether it is to be used conditionally or unconditionally or if it is fully protected before any intervention. The other recommendation is to look back at the wetland’s history and check the original status of the wetland. This information will then guide restoration activities especially when choosing which plants need to be planted in a given wetland. The other importance of this information is to be able to set realistic targets when planning restoration interventions.

Last Modified: Fri, 18 Feb 2022 09:56:41 SAST

ARUA Water CoE Workshop at the 3rd ARUA Biennial Conference, 19th November 2021

Topic: Digital storytelling of African water challenges: links to human health and well-being

Digital Storytelling of African water challengesLogos of participants

The ARUA Water CoE hosted a workshop at the third ARUA Biennial conference, a virtual event held on the 19th of November 2021. The theme was ‘Digital Storytelling of African Water Challenges’ linked to human health and well-being and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Digital Storytelling (DST) is an approach to the ancient art of storytelling that uses modern technologies to create short stories comprising different elements of multimedia – photo, video, and audio.  DST has multiple uses within the research environment, such as collecting stories, data, monitoring and evaluation, reflection and learning.

The goal of the CoE workshop was to showcase how digital storytelling can enhance science communication with civil society in relation to the work Early Career Researchers (ECRs) of the Water CoE are conducting under the ARUA-UKRI Grants. See below a snapshot of the workshop programme:

Programme snapshot

The workshop was attended by 34 people including representatives from our Water CoE African Nodes and other international guests (see Figure xx below). The main successes and outcomes of the workshop included:

  1. Showcasing our work as Water CoE on an international front to generate awareness and foster potential future collaborations. During the workshop there was an expression of interest of collaboration on research work between two of the African Nodes?
  2. Showcasing how our work as an ARUA Water CoE links to the SDGs, contributing particularly to SDG6 – improved and equitable water supply.
  3. Demonstrating the use of digital storytelling as an innovative and accessible tool to generate awareness around local water challenges and to communicate scientific research findings to civil society and local water managers.
  4. A rich discussion was generated around how digital storytelling could be used in future work of the Water CoE to forefront the voices of local communities usually marginalised in local water management decision making. In particular, each Node ECR was given advice on how they could improve the use of digital storytelling in this regard from other more experienced practitioners in the water sector.

In conclusion, the Water CoE workshop generated excitement and presented an opportunity for our partners to further explore the use of the tool in their water related work.

 Participants Screenshot

Figure : A screenshot of some of the 34 participants who attending the ARUA Water CoE Workshop at the Biennial Conference on 19th November, 2021.


Last Modified: Fri, 03 Dec 2021 11:06:31 SAST

Announcing the arrival of Dr Bezaye Gorfu Tessema: 2022 ARUA-Carnegie Early Career Research Fellow

Header image

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Water Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the Institute for Water Research (IWR), Rhodes University is very excited to announce the arrival of Dr Bezaye Gorfu Tessema. Bezaye has been awarded the Carnegie Early Career Research Fellowship through the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) for one year beginning October 2021. She is being hosted by the ARUA Water CoE under the supervision of the Water CoE Director, Professor Tally Palmer and the Water CoE Co-director, Dr Jane Tanner.

During her time in the Institute, Bezaye will work on water related research and capacity development initiatives under the Water CoE ARUA-UKRI Research Excellence and Capability Grants.  She will also be working with other researchers in the IWR on carbon sequestration related research in natural versus degraded lands in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Bezaye will function as an integral member of research teams, delivering presentations and participating in technical workshops with fellow researchers and other stakeholders. She will also assist in creating and bolstering partnerships between the ARUA Water CoE and African and European research and innovation units. Her works will therefore contribute significantly to the intellectual vitality of the IWR and Water CoE.

Bezaye, is an Early Career Environmentalist by profession and has been conducting research on Sustainable Land Management and Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration. Bezaye has been working on water pollution and its impact on ecosystem and human health at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, University of New England and Water and Land Resource Centre of Addis Ababa Universities, respectively. She earned her PhD in Terrestrial carbon from the University of New England, Australia, MSc in Environmental Sciences and BSc in Plant Science from Addis Ababa and Haramaya Universities Ethiopia, respectively.

Bezaye has always been keen and passionate about contributing to the research and development efforts for viable social impact of the research she does towards food and water secure communities, sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation. She believes this can be promoted through networking, partnerships, innovation, and active participation of stakeholders including institutions and communities at large. She is currently interested and heading toward more inclusive, transdisciplinary, adaptive and systems thinking research approaches to better use and manage resources and achieve SDGs, and hopes to work more on these themes during her time with the Water CoE.


Contact details:

Cell Phone: +27787712918

WhatsApp: +251911184494

E-mails: / /

Social Media network:  Bezaye Tessema | LinkedIn;  Bezaye G. Tessema (

Prof. Tally Palmer of Rhodes University joined in Cardiff University virtual event on “AU-EU-UK collaborations: emerging opportunities and prior learning for water and resilience research”

Tally Palmer, from Rhodes University, Institute for Water Research (IWR) and the Director of the ARUA Water Centre of Excellence (CoE), was involved as a contributor in an event that shared emerging lessons on themes of resilience, water security and multinational interdisciplinary research partnerships in the context of UK and EU funding programmes on 6th July. The event was organized by Dr Adrian Healy, a Future Leaders Fellow at Cardiff University. The event included presentations from existing projects in order to learn from previous programmes promoting resilience under UK funding. With a focus on practical examples of AU-EU-UK collaborations the event shared knowledge of past activities, future potentials and the opportunities emerging from national and European Union funding programmes. The event raised awareness and built prospective research communities.


Prof. Tally Palmer, Director of the ARUA Water CoE presenting during the event.

The programme included presentations from representatives of European Commission and Welsh Government and on-going collaborations under Horizon 2020.  Fadila Boughanemi (European Commission) introduced the Horizon Europe programme and highlighted the opportunities for cooperation with partners in Africa. Calum White (Welsh Government) introduced the new International Learning Exchange (ILE) that has been launched by Welsh Government. Amongst other things this can support the development of new collaborations through staff mobility (including the development of projects with international partners and strategic partnerships).

Mark Pelling (Kings College London), Tally Palmer (Rhodes University) and Esther Diez Cebollero (Water JPI) provided insights based on their own experience. Tally Palmer highlighted how research funding tends to be relatively short-term (3 years or less) and asked whether a different approach is needed to help develop sustainable impacts. Building relationships and working collaboratively takes time. Mark Pelling outlined some key principles for collaborative working that have emerged from the experience of Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) funded projects in the construction of co-production and interdisciplinarity, namely: communication, sharing values and language; being problem-focused and focus-led (helps to organise multiple view points and to avoid assumptions about role/contribution); be flexible and be prepared to fail and learn (and know when to change direction) – how do we build monitoring and evaluation systems so that we know when to change direction and perhaps partner in ways that are not destructive; ownership of incentives and framing of incentives (recognise value of publications as an incentive don’t dismiss them); relationships take time, understanding and empathy (and we must think differently about remote working).

Mark and Tally both also highlighted the moral and ethical elements to sustaining partnerships and relationships, as the GCRF cuts have brought to the fore. We should also not overlook the significance of transdisciplinarity (respecting different knowledges) – the opportunity to engage in participatory actions involving a range of actors (boundary spanning). Who has the skillset to connect and combine the networks of knowledge that are needed to shift problems? A common theme was the importance of spending time to build shared expectations of the roles everyone has, to ensure equity and to lay the foundations for open and transparent working practices (including open (and devolved) budgets). A valuable approach is to not assume that English will be the default language (with translation to English).

Looking to the future, there is likely to be a push for a global shift towards adaptation approaches in response to climate change. Speakers noted their expectation that this will promote research agendas (and funding) and include connections to social and economic justice.

A tribute to Professor Noble Ephraim Banadda

Prof Noble Banadda, 1975-2021

Water CoE Node Leader: Makerere University

African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Water Centre of  Excellence

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Prof Noble Ephraim Banadda, who lead the ARUA Water CoE partner University based at Makerere University.

We first met Professor Noble Banadda and End. Dr. Isa Kabenge, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I well remember their animated contributions. At one of the evening functions the four of us were talking, and Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA Secretary General, shared with us his dreams of a set of UK funded grants, the first, available to all ARUA Centres of Excellence, and a second, larger grant to be competitively awarded. I remember thinking “we will go for those”.

How could we have guessed that we would win the grants, and then, the vibrant person we had met and worked with would tragically  pass away  in the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have wept and remembered, and we have  watched, listened to, and read others’ remembering. The person who emerged from these memories was instantly recognizable. Noble: the extraordinary man with a huge personality – and great heart.  All the tributes to Noble have first and foremost celebrated and honoured the person – his generosity, humour, kindness, passionate enthusiasm and warm engagement with those he encountered. Then came all the acknowledgements of a fine, exceptional academic.  As with everyone else, the researchers and students in the ARUA Water CoE experienced both those aspects.

Noble was a strong influence at the Water CoE launch and inaugural workshop in 2018, where we all agreed on the principles of collaboration, and the academic orientation, the CoE would adopt. He was  an active contributor as we co-developed the many stages that led to the award of both the UKRI grants, and will be a posthumous co-author on the paper on the Adaptive systemic Approach we have developed.

Noble: we join your family, friends, colleagues and wide international network in remembering you with sorrow and honour, and we send our deep condolences to all who have loved you.

Eng. Dr. Isa Kabenge will take on the leadership of the Makerere University ARUA Water CoE Node. It is hardly possible to remember Noble without Isa – always the two – talking, laughing, offering insightful comment. Isa, we know you are mourning and we offer you all the support we can. Together we will do justice to Noble’s legacy.


Professor Tally Palmer, Dr Jane Tanner, and all of the ARUA Water CoE

7th July 2021   

See the Noble Banadda farewell document.

Research at a distance: novel approaches and equitable partnership workshop

Research at a Distance: Changing Approaches and Equitable Partnerships workshop was hosted by Dr Adrian Healy, UKRI Future Leader Fellow, Cardiff University on 12 April 2021. The workshop was 2 hours and 30 min long and comprised a formal working group with a number of experts such as academics, NGOs and research practitioners from different countries who are part of the collaborating partners of Cardiff University UK. Members of the Water CoE including Prof Ezechiel Longe, Ms Sandra Mutesi, Ms Rokhaya Diop, Prof Zerihun Woldu, Dr James Akanmu, Dr Sukhmani Mantel and Dr Bukho Gusha were among more than 30 people who attended this workshop.


read more here...

Last Modified: Thu, 29 Apr 2021 10:25:46 SAST

IWR Prof. Tally Palmer as key speaker in webinar: “Adaptive Systemic Approach to community-led and engaged research”


Prof. Tally Palmer, Director of the ARUA Water Centre of Excellence and the Institute of Water Research, Rhodes University

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.


The Webinar

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.

Final remark

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

Uganda launches its first meeting to kick off the “Unlocking Resilient Benefits from African Water Resources” project.

Story highlights

  • Makerere University convened its first high level meeting virtually to introduce Uganda’s participation in the international project “Unlocking Resilient Benefits from African Water Resources”.
  • The project is funded by UKRI GCRF through the ARUA Water Centre of Excellence at Rhodes University, South Africa, and it involves six nodes in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa as well as UK partners.
  • The Ugandan node will look at the sources, pathways and impact of pollution in urban water.
  • While the meeting was well represented by top academics from Makerere University and formal water institutions at different levels of government, the 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, government ministries, local governments, water management agencies and
  • By bringing together a wide array of knowledges from Uganda, and in partnership with African countries and the UK, the project aims to shift water development practice towards greater equity and sustainability.


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.

 Screen capature of meeting particpants

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

Rhodes University among leading African Universities announced for new UK research consortium

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 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 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

GCRF Capability Grant: Foundation training course on the Adaptive Systemic Approach - 10-13 February 2020

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

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 at the ARUA Water CoE foundation course

Participants working on course activities.

Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST

H7O Global Water Security Symposium 23-24 January 2020 and N8-Water CoE colloquium 22 January 2020

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.

Combined face and online meeeting.

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

ARUA 2nd biennial conference, Nairobi – 18-20 November 2019

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: Participants build a systemic picture of the SDGs

Water CoE workshop: ELRC materials being used in the workshop

Water CoE workshop: ELRC materials being used in the workshop

Last Modified: Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:07:38 SAST

UKRI:GCRF Capability Grant

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.

Figure 1:  The ARUA Centre of Excellence for Water:  Africa’s water-centred approach to the SDGs

Last Modified: Tue, 03 Nov 2020 15:17:47 SAST

Launch of ARUA Water Centre of Excellence – 26 to 30 May 2019

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

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.

all delegates at launch

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