From 26 to 28 September, the 1st annual SADC Groundwater Conference was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The main theme of this conference, organised by the SADC Groundwater Management Institute, was: 'Adapting to climate change in the SADC region through water security - A focus on groundwater'. IGRAC was involved as organising partner of this conference, gave several presentations, facilitated panel discussions and hosted a contest for most promising young water professional.
The sub-theme dealt with on the first day of the conference was ‘Promoting climate change resilience through transboundary aquifers (TBA’s) management and conjunctive groundwater surface water management in the SADC-region’. Under this theme, IGRAC contributed to two presentations. Firstly, the Ramotswa Information Management System (RIMS) was presented by Mr. Kwazi Majola (South African Department of Water and Sanitation) with IGRAC’s Senior Researcher Geert-Jan Nijsten as one of the co-authors. The RIMS has been developed by IGRAC as part of the RAMOTSWA project and serves as a tool to support governance of the Ramotswa transboundary aquifer resources.
Mr. Phuti Mabotja (University of the Free State) presented an overview of ‘Free software as a tool to optimize groundwater data management’. This overview was generated under the project “Capacity Building on Groundwater Data Collection and Management for SADC Member States (GWdataCoM project)” which is led by IGRAC. The final session on the first day was a panel discussion on TBA hotspots in the SADC region, which was jointly organised and facilitated by Karen Villholth (IWMI) and Geert-Jan Nijsten from IGRAC.
On day 3, IGRAC contributed with a session on the GWdataCoM project. In this session, Arnaud Sterckx presented the Gap analysis of groundwater data collection and management in SADC member states and Geert-Jan Nijsten gave a presentation on the ‘Development of a SADC framework for groundwater data collection and management’. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on ‘Groundwater Data Collectoin and Managament in SADC Member States’ organised by IGRAC.
Young Professional Award
To stimulate young professionals from SADC member states to contribute to groundwater science, development and management, IGRAC initiated an award for the most promising young professional presenting at the conference. A panel of six senior experts from across SADC, scored the oral and poster presentations of young professionals at the conference. Ms Albie Steyn, MSc student at the University of the Free State (South Africa), won the 1st prize and the price for best presenter under subtheme 2, while Ms Christina Fraser (PhD research student at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK) won the price for best presenter under subtheme 1. Both winners received their awards, powered by IGRAC, in an official ceremony during the conference gala dinner.
Interviews with young professionals from the SADC region
During the conference, Arnaud Sterckx has interviewed several young professionals about what they see as the main groundwater challenges in their home country, and about their personal ambitions and background.