World Water Week comes early to TEMA Environmental Change

On Wednesday this week we held our World Water Week seminar. It was the culminating activity in a three week course on water resource management in Africa: part of the Masters programme in Science for Sustainable Development at Linköping University.  We are teaching on the course as part of our Linnaeus-Palme exchange programme between the Geography Department at Rhodes University and Linköping University.

Prof Kate Rowntree outside Temahuset
Prof Kate Rowntree outside Temahuset

We used the four themes of World Water Week: the Global to Local Perspective, Political Economy of Growth and Development perspective, the Human and Social Perspective, the Ecosystem and Pollution Perspective as the foci of the final presentations by our students.


Water management issues in eight African countries were investigated. The papers, which covered a range of issues, clearly showed how the four perspectives intersect. Water issues in urban slums provides a good example. Studies from Nairobi, Accra, and Dar es Salaam all showed an inability to provide effective water infrastructure in informal settlements that arise from high rates of migration to urban areas, itself the result of population growth, economic drivers, conflict and climate change.

The lack of effective formal governance in these areas opens up opportunities for private entrepreneurs who fill an essential but costly niche, giving rise to increased inequities of access to water-related services. Finally the downstream delivery of polluted water impacts aquatic ecosystems and can negatively affect the health and livelihoods of downstream communities, as illustrated by the Nairobi River.



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