Water Leaders for Africa
There are leaders in the water sector already, but they are in short supply and overworked. Africa needs more young people to pick up and carry the torch of effective water management into the future.
These leaders, says Dr Roux, need a depth and breadth of knowledge to direct sustainable use, effective management and wise governance of water resources. “They need to be humble enough to serve, yet have the vision and energy to inspire people to treat water resources like the finite and most precious resources that they are.”
Integrated Water Management
Integrated water management is a holistic approach to water management. It considers the whole water cycle and takes into account the socio-economic, political and environmental factors affecting water challenges, in order to achieve sound, sustainable solutions for water and water-related problems.
Understanding the interconnectedness of water in human and natural systems, and the need to take a much bigger perspective than just the single-issue approach, are vital if effective solutions are to be found. Social, cultural and environmental factors must be taken into consideration. Water practitioners need to develop creative and critical thinking skills to solve the complexity of problems Africa is now faced with and to manage water projects in a holistic way.
IWC Water Research Node
The IWC Water Research Node uses integrated water management as a critical theme to make both a practical and theoretical contribution to an inter- and transdisciplinary understanding of water management in Africa.
The Node is a collaborative partnership between Monash University and the International WaterCentre – a joint venture of four Australian universities. The Node was set up to address some of the key water resource management challenges of contemporary Africa through research, education and community engagement. Its flagship educational offering is the two-year research intensive degree, Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management. For more information on this course refer to the advert on the inside back cover of this publication.
Because the Water Research Node is a small unit a lot of emphasis is placed on working with other research organisations, universities and implementation agencies in South and Southern Africa.
Finding solutions for the future
“If you want to make a difference in the African context,” says Liezl Craig, one of the current students, “water management is the field to enter. There are numerous challenges and a severe lack of champions to address them.
The water leaders envisioned by the Water Research Node will have the skills to initiate dialogues between professions, peoples, cultures and countries. They will understand the specialty areas involved in water – engineering, law, politics, agriculture, etc – and be able to communicate and work between them. They will create diverse teams and develop partnerships with and between professionals, communities and governments and play leadership roles in the critical interface between science and management of water resources.
Article to be published in Water Wheel magazine, South African Water Research Commission