On Friday 3 June, The Monash South Africa (MSA) Centre for Transformative Research, in partnership with the International Water Security Network, hosted a comprehensive seminar aimed at raising awareness for the impact of climate change and water security in Southern Africa. The event saw various water experts, MSA students and academics discussing possible sustainable actions to address the current water crisis, which is especially relevant in light of the recent declaration of the South African drought as a national disaster. The event held further importance given the global acknowledgement of World Environment Day on June 5.
MSA Associate Professor Bimo Nkhata introduced the International Water Security Network, followed by remarks from guest speaker Stanley Liphadzi from the Group Executive Water Research Commission (WRC). The keynote address followed, delivered by Dr Jim Taylor, Director of Environmental Education for WESSA, and recipient of a Human Rights award in 1997. Dr Taylor is passionate about environmental education, and spoke of his particular interest in education surrounding sustainable water management and participatory action research approaches.
During the seminar, the hard work and dedication of some MSA students in driving positive change was recognised. Students who had entered a competition to produce precautionary or preventative measures regarding the recent drought situation in South Africa, as well as recommendations for the future, were awarded prizes for their efforts. Samuel Ngaira was awarded first place for his winning essay, which incorporated his personal experiences of the drought and its impact into a piece of writing which offered potential practical solutions to the issue.
Hlobisile Moshaba and Zahra Nazir Kaba were awarded as first and second runners up in the essay competition respectively for recounting their experiences of the drought, and for sharing their ideas for addressing the disaster. Buhlebethu Magwaza and Awande Duma delivered a winning poster together, as well as a written summary suggesting long term solutions to drought in Southern Africa.
Associate Professor Bimo Nkhata commented on addressing the current drought situation, stating that, “To confront recurrent droughts, the country needs to step up its water management efforts by getting better at deciding how to use its limited water resources. The challenge is to save enough water for use during periods of recurrent droughts. We need long-term research to implement and learn from instructive global lessons. By exposing these global lessons, South Africa is poised to build a foundation for a drought resilient society”.