Finally, some students!

Fialho Nehama, water scientist

This morning, we finally got to hear a little about the core business of RISE – the research being carried out by the 90-odd students sponsored by the programme.

First up was Raphael Tshimang from the SSAWRN network, who is modelling the flow of water through the Congo basin. The hydrological systems of the Congo are poorly understood, yet it is crucial to understanding the climate and weather patterns of the entire African continent.

The lack of data means that more detailed surveying of the basin is required before scientists like Tshimanga can make reliable predictions about the environmental and climatic effects of activities like logging and mining in the basin.

We also heard from Fialho Nehama (pictured) from the WIO-RISE network who is modelling the freshwater dispersal where the mighty Zambezi river meets the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. This is important, he told me, to understand how dam activity upstream affect fisheries offshore, as the estuary acts as a nursery for many fish species. No such studies have been carried out previously. “This research would not have been possible if it wasn’t for RISE,” he told me.

Both Tshimanga and Nehama are doing research that is still some way off from being packaged and presented to African ministries as advice for how to manage their water resources. This highlights the need for mechanisms that can continue to support these students beyond their PhDs so they can straighten out some of the question marks that we heard about today.

Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net columnist

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