On the 27th February, Christina Fraser (a PhD student on the CJF Project) travelled to Pretoria in South Africa to meet with members of the Integrated Water Management Institute (IWMI). Together they then travelled to the 3rd Regional Meeting on Tools for the Sustainable Management of Transboundary Aquifers which was hosted in Gaborone, Botswana jointly by The Ramotswa Project (IWMI), the GGRETA Project (UNESCO) and the SADC-GMI. The meeting ran for 4 days from the 6th March – 9th March. She describes her experience below.
The meeting in Gaborone centred around two transboundary aquifer projects currently being undertaken within Africa; the Ramotswa Project and the Stampreit Project. It also engaged with SADC member states for improved sustainable groundwater management within the region and facilitated discussions with River Basin Organization representatives on how to incorporate groundwater in Transboundary River Basin Organizations.
Whilst at the meeting I attended many sessions including groundwater modelling progress, measuring transboundary cooperation through the SDG 6.5.2 indicator, Information management systems, RBO’s strengths and weaknesses in transboundary management, managed aquifer recharge, needs assessment and consultation to support groundwater management in African RBO’s and lessons learnt from the Stampriet and Ramotswa experience: implications to the SADC region.
On the third day of the meeting I joined a group of participants who went out into the field to the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer Area. We observed some operational boreholes, observation boreholes and a potential transboundary pollution source from a wastewater treatment site. It was helpful to get a real first hand feel for the study area and the issues faced by the project and local people.
Throughout the meeting learnt a lot about both the Stampriet and Ramotwsa Projects that I am now going to take back home and apply to my PhD. It was particularly interesting to learn how transboundary related project such as these run and see methodologies and approaches applied in real life practice. It was also great to engage with representatives from RBO's, SADC-GMI, UNESCO, IWMI and other involved parties.
It was also insightful to see that both projects don’t focus only on hydrogeology and related governance. Social and economic issues such as gender are also within both projects scope. Stephanie Hawkins (Strathclyde PhD Student) presented her research on ‘Understanding gender issues for the governance of the transboundary Ramotswa Aquifer’ and highlighted a particularly important take home message for me: We manage water for people and therefore water management is as much of a social issue as it is a hydrogeology one.
I would like to thank Tales Carvalho Resende (UNESCO) and Jonathan Lautze (IWMI) for facilitating my participation in this meeting. I would also like to thank Davies Saruchera, Girma Ebrhim, Manuel Magombeyi, Stephanie Hawkins and all of the staff at IWMI for welcoming me during my time in South Africa and Botswana. Finally I would like to thank UNESCO and the Scottish Government through the Climate Justice Fund: Water Futures Programme for providing financial support for this trip.