In recognition of her ground-breaking engaged research in social-ecological justice and water sustainability, Professor Tally Palmer, Director of the Institute for Water Research (IWR) at Rhodes University, received the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement. The Award is a prestigious and competitive annual award which recognises meaningful and committed partnerships between members of the University and the wider public, for mutual benefit.
Instead of the usual public lecture given by recipients of the Award, Palmer and her team are inviting members of the community to experience engaged research at the Vice Chancellor’s Community Engagement 2018 Award Lecture (“Water Works for Everyone”).
The workshop will take place at Makhanda City Hall on Thursday, 30 May 2019 from 17h00 to 19h30, where the IWR team will facilitate a process of Makhanda residents collaborating to collectively focus on the water crisis currently facing the town.
“What I thought is that instead of talking about engaged research in a lecture, we should do an engaged research activity with the whole town about water, which is our most pressing issue. The acute anxiety and impatience around water has mainly produced anger, blame and divisions. If we share knowledge and perspectives, and appreciate the magnitude of our water challenge, we can transform destructive divisive blame into greater tolerance and committed, effective, collective action,” Palmer explained.
Stakeholders including Makana Municipality, Grahamstown Rate Payers’ Association, Makana Revive, Grahamstown Business Forum, local consulting engineers, the Department of Water and Sanitation, local farmers, the Unemployed Peoples Movement, and the Eastern Cape Water Caucus have been invited to be part of the engagement.
“The process is based on an understanding that all the stakeholders involved want water to be reliable, clean and its distribution to be fair. Everyone at the workshop will have the chance to engage with each of these issues. We will learn new things, and share what we know, and we will be challenged to act – individually and collectively,” Palmer said.
Palmer added that the fundamental purpose of the evening is to start a shift from anger to action, using the power of knowing more about our own water system and what we can do.