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The Importance of Water Resources Research

Global change and its impact on Africa’s water resources is a critical concern. Africa is experiencing rapid changes in land use and a corresponding degradation of its soil and water resources and resultantly has many of the world’s natural resources and societies most vulnerable to climate change. Change is a consequence of its own economic development needs, as well as a strong demand from international role players’ intent on securing land for future production of food, fuel, fibre and fodder. Whilst the imperative for development is clear, it is equally clear that Africa needs to develop its soil, land and water resources in a sustainable way and that this requires rigorous scientific input to inform policy, strong governance systems to ensure sound decision making and enhanced human capacity.

Why a Centre?

Africa’s Science Institutions have been challenged to provide the education and training of individuals and the technological advances to meet these challenges. Furthermore, interdisciplinary science is seen as an opportunity to gain innovative solutions needed to drive the transformation and development of its water resources. In response to this, the Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was established in October 2012.

SANCIAHS Conference 2016
Professor Graham Jewitt at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris 2013

Research, Capacity Building and Outreach Overview

With a focus on water resources related research in sub-Saharan Africa, the CWRR consists of staff, students and associates active in a variety of research projects in the region. Projects are funded by the European Union, DFID, USAID-NSF as well the Water Research Commission, National Research Foundation and various others, both internationally and in South Africa.

The CWRR is involved in various capacity building initiatives and research partnerships including:

  • Partnerships with WaterNet including a specialisation component in “Earth Observation” of the Intergrated Water Resources Management Master course
  • NEPAD Water Network Centres of Excellence
  • CapNet
  • Tiger
  • UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands
  • Global water Partnership
  • IRD, France
  • Stockholm Environmental Institute, Sweden
  • A close cooperation between Bioresources Engineering
  • Growing of some innovative niches such as remote sensing, forest hydrology, land use and water governance / management
  • Strong involvement of some staff members in advising governmental policies as well as different national Think Tank activities
  • Real catchments as research laboratories and used for training of students

Overall the research of the Centre for Water Resources Research aims at uncovering the challenges science faces when creating knowledge as well as implementable solutions for the region and beyond. An integrated research agenda can only be the starting point. For more information on the research projects, visit the Research Themes page.