On the week of the 24th September, Christina Fraser, a PhD student funded through the Climate Justice Fund: Water Futures Programme, attended and presented at the 1st SADC-GMI groundwater conference in Johannesburg. She then travelled to Pretoria the following week to work at the IWMI offices on the Shire ConWat project she is involved in. She describes her experience below.
The SADC-GMI conference had two main themes. (1) Promoting climate change resilience through transboundary aquifers (TBA) management and conjunctive groundwater surface water management in the SADC region and (2) Towards an understanding of the impact of climate change on groundwater resources and exploring climate smart groundwater infrastructure options. I presented within the first theme on my PhD research, and more specifically my presentation was titled, ‘An Assessment of Malawi’s Transboundary Aquifers and Prioritization of Vulnerable Hotspots to Support Directed Cross Border Management’. The main message of my presentation was twofold; Firstly, that countries can go back to the basics when it comes to national transboundary aquifer assessments, and that abundant data is not always required. Secondly, that zooming into to specific local scale transboundary hotspots that require more directed management can allow limited financial funding to go where the greatest need is.
Throughout the conference there was many interesting presentations and keynote speeches. It was particularly encouraging to see so many young professionals present from many countries within the SADC. During the Gala dinner on the final night of the conference, I was presented with an award for the best presentation within Theme 1. I feel very fortunate and grateful to receive such an award and it is encouraging to have my research commended at such an event.
The week following the conference, I travelled to Pretoria to work at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) offices, with whom I am working on the Shire Conjunctive Water Project with. I had the chance to collaborate with my colleagues over various deliverable of the project and it was great to spend some time brainstorming ideas and discussing aspects of the conjunctive framework we are developing.
I would like to thank the Scottish Government for funding this trip as well as the SADC-GMI and the organizational committee for an incredible conference experience.