Expectations are plenty on the first cohort of the SASSCAL Graduate Study Programme in Integrated Water and Resource Management to finish their studies and provide solutions to water and energy insecurity.
“We are not creating a normal PHD programme, whereby you finish and you have your thesis and the only thing you can do is look for a job in the university or in Government. We have created this special programme for you to come up with technologically innovative products and services in water resources in order to map the water resources quality and quantity in the entire region,” said SASSCAL Executive Director, Dr Jane Olwoch when the first 12 cohort for the SGSP-IWRM scholarship students visited the SASSCAL Regional Secretariat on 11 August 2022.
Amongst the students is Jimmy Katambo from Lusaka, Zambia who is undertaking a PhD in Informatics. His case study is to develop a smart water system using artificial intelligence to predict the quality of water in Zambia. Katambo, who is currently at literature review stage, described his studies as going well so far and that he is excited to have been given this rare opportunity.
The twelve students are pursuing a three-year SGSP-IWRM programme, which runs from 2022 until 2024 and were selected from SASSCAL member states namely Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia while the South African students are yet to come on board. The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) is hosting the programme. The SGSP-IWRM Acting Programme Director, Ms. Rennie Munyayi and other NUST Project staff accompanied the students to meet Dr Olwoch who introduced them to the entire team of Regional Secretariat and the SASSCAL Namibian Node, employees at a social gathering.
Dr Olwoch informed the students that the trending news is that the world is now suffering from water and energy insecurities hence the establishment of study programme. “That’s why we are excited that you are sitting in the High-Tech Transfer Plaza Select (HTTP) Building so that it gives you an environment on how to create something new,” she added.
Newly appointed SASSCAL Director of Science, Technology and Capacity Building, Dr Budzanani Tacheba echoed the ED’s sentiments saying most countries are currently talking of building knowledge economists from their very human capital. Their mission, therefore, is to be trained and equipped to address the challenges that each of the countries in the region are experiencing. “You are torch bearers in terms of resolving and addressing all those pressing challenges around the specific areas of environment, climate change that our countries are experiencing,” he said urging the students to identify mentors beyond their supervisors in order to get broader perspectives and take advantage of other opportunities.
Ms. Munyayi described the students as ambassadors of an initiative that will make a difference and people that will create solutions for SASSCAL member states, SADC and even beyond regional blocks. She expected their footprints to go beyond their own countries as they are going to influence spaces beyond regional groupings.
The students have already attended hybrid technical research seminars in various research topics to assist them with their studies. Other research institutions, students and professionals and industry leaders involved in the areas of water resources and management also attended the seminars.
The objective of the programme is to develop and deploy an innovative and excellent regional collaboration in education and research programme at PhD level in different specialisations under the theme Integrated Water Resource Management.