- Research project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
One and a half years on and Cape Town, a South African city of more than four million people, has made it through one of the largest municipal water failures in modern history. April 12, 2018 had been labelled “Day Zero”—the day Cape Town would run out of municipal water after experiencing the worst drought in a century and because of poor planning. Its dam water storage capacity had not kept up with its huge population growth and tensions between political parties led to much needed funding being withheld. The city, however, managed to stave off disaster through water conservation and efficiency measures, smarter use of data and some assistance from nature. High water tariffs and a ban on the use of municipal water for non-essential uses also helped. It is now looking at desalination and groundwater extraction as ways to diversify its future water resources. But its water situation is still shaky.
Najibullah Loodin from Afghanistan and Annelise Herman from Belgium have been selected as the Master of Integrated Water Management international scholarship recipients for 2020. Dr Brian S McIntosh, the International WaterCentre’s Director of Education, headed the scholarship selection panel, who worked through the hundreds of scholarship applications. “We had a very high-quality field of applicants this year, which made the evaluation and decision process particularly difficult,” says Dr McIntosh. “Both winners stood out in terms of their scholarship applications. Najibullah is focussed on water resource management, flood risk management and social justice. He also founded an NGO in Herat that works with street children. Annelise has a biotechnology background and a diverse range of interests and passions, including water security, water governance and water foot printing. We are very excited to welcome them to our next cohort of future water leaders.”
“In my country, people live their lives quietly on their own. People don’t share their problems, and so they don’t share solutions. People are not interested in improving if it doesn’t benefit them. But it should be about how improving benefits all, because we don’t live alone. That applies to everything: water management, scarcity and the rest.” Pablo’s career as a lawyer in his home country of Chile has seen him work in private consultancies; as a liaison for policy advisors, engineers and geologists; and as a university professor. He is passionate about increasing his water management knowledge, so he can educate others and influence those with power within the water sector. “In my country, in Chile, water is totally [controlled by the] private sector. The government doesn’t have power to apply limits on water. Water regulations are about the economy and about the free market. It [water policy] does not include the social aspect, or the environmental aspect, and it definitely does not include the human aspect.”
It has been said that in the future, wars will be fought over water—but one organisation is trying to change that. Dr Martina Klimes, an advisor on water and peace for the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) says the challenges are vast.
Local content and appealing to group identities can have a greater impact on changing consumer water usage than simply promoting a general environmental conservation message. Research undertaken by the UK-based University of East Anglia has highlighted the importance of working with local communities and focusing on a social identity approach to create permanent changes in behaviour. Dr Vittoria Danino, Head of the Anglian Centre for Water Studies at the UEA explains, “one of our PhD students, Ellin Lede, undertook a study that looked at the psychological ways of helping communities to reduce water consumption. We looked at different ways of engaging with customers in a specific area around Newmarket [in Suffolk, United Kingdom]. The UEA and Anglian Water partnered with Glaxo Smith Kline to try out a number of initiatives.”