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October 2014

Interview by Ochieng' Ogodo; Film by Jon Spaull

Sugar cane is one of Kenya’s most important cash crops. Currently, most of the pulp, or ‘bagasse’, left after the cane’s juice is extracted goes to waste. In this film, John Mwero, an engineer at the University of Nairobi, talks about his PhD research on adding the ash left after burning bagasse to cement. Not only does doing so recycle this readily available by-product, but it also strengthens concrete.

Mwero’s PhD was made possible through a scholarship with AMSEN (the African Materials Science and Engineering Network). AMSEN is part of RISE (the Regional Initiative in Science and Education), a programme designed to strengthen higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mwero argues that without the access to other universities’ equipment and the networking opportunities with other African academics that the scholarship provided, it would have been impossible to obtain his PhD in Kenya.

 

September 2014

RISE-SSAWRN graduate Dr. Oghenekaro Nelson Odume of the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality (UCEWQ) at the Institute for Water Research (IWR) at Rhodes University was announced the winner of the prestigious International Emerging River Professional Award at the 17th International Riversymposium held in Canberra, Australia from 15-18 September 2014.

The Emerging River Professional Award (ERPA) is an initiative of the International RiverFoundation, in partnership with OceanaGold Corporation and International WaterCentre Alumni Network (IWCAN), that was established to recognise and foster those in the early stages of their careers in rivers. This important initiative identifies and rewards individuals in the early stages of their careers who have demonstrated innovation, excellence and leadership in river, basin or river-dependent community management. Whilst teams are essential in all facets of river management, this award focusses on individual achievements and contribution, rewarding dedication, innovation and leadership.

After entrants from around the world were screened by a panel of judges of international repute, Dr. Odume was selected as one of three finalists to compete the grand prize. In his presentation entitled “Water Quality Management in South African Rivers: An Integrated Approach,” Dr. Odume showcased a new research practice in which integration, collaboration and reflection are at the core of water resource management. His approach emphasizes stakeholder engagement and combines both ecological and social science methodologies to achieve integrated water resources management in the context of social-ecological systems. Dr. Odume demonstrated this new way of doing water resource research in the Swartkops River catchment, where he collaborated with municipal officials in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro to develop innovative new tools for managing industrial sewage to promote river health and to foreground environmental ethics in the context of a multi-stakeholder engagement process.

Dr. Odume, who received both his master's and his doctoral degree through RISE's SSAWRN network, emphasized the importance of excellent mentorship in his water resource research. He attributed this achievement to the sterling leadership and guidance he received from his RISE PhD supervisor and mentor Prof. Tally Palmer, Director of the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality at the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University.

 

August 2014

Interview by Ochieng' Ogodo; Film by Jon Spaull
 
 
Catherine Kaluwa, a PhD student from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, talks about the journey she has taken from walking barefoot to school to researching the efficacy of plants that women in her homeland have traditionally taken for family planning. She also outlines some of the challenges she has faced as a female researcher working in a male-dominated profession.
 
 

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