PI: Assoc/Prof David Ikumi, Dr Amber Abrams

Grand Challenge Priority Areas: ‘Advancing Afrika’, ‘Building a Healthy Afrika’, ‘Our Southern Location’, ‘On Being Human’, ‘Natural Resource Efficiency for Sustainable Development’

South Africa faces increasing water scarcity which requires a shift in relations with water of varying qualities to ensure equitable and sustainable future systems. Research is needed to consider (i) existent governance and the gaps in current policy, (ii) challenges with conventional approaches to water resource management, (iii) technological innovations, (iv) peoples’ relations regarding water and (v) future potential risks related to water. This research programme intends to address these through a multi-pronged, processual and transdisciplinary approach that will focus on efforts towards achieving the ‘net zero water’ concept, which aims to reduce water demand, maximise alternative water sources, and minimise waste, whilst ensuring investment in people, meeting of local interests and promotion of equity and justice.

Methods include laboratory and field scale studies, GIS mapping, statistical analysis, modelling, including the use of digital twins and IoT, scenario analyses, water quality risk assessments and stakeholder consultation and collaboration. The aim of this research is to improve Africa's water security through the co-creation and co-design of pragmatic solutions and governance systems for reusing and recovering resources in water, enhancing water management and addressing risk. Researchers from faculties of EBE (Civil Engineering, APG), Science (EGS), Health Sciences (Public Health), Commerce (Economics), Law (Public Law) and Humanities (Social Anthropology) will work together in transdisciplinary teams, and expand into other departments/disciplines as required.

We are working alongside civic organisations and stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector, and within partnerships with external institutes on the development of translational research outputs to influence policy. The research team acknowledges that one key role is to act as knowledge bridges and relational connectors, linking policy and decision makers/implementers with local residents, workers and citizens who, daily, face the realities that emerge from decisions and policies.

Although separated for organisational purposes, work streams are intertwined and build on one another, often overlapping in objectives, with many streams addressing multiple key themes. Our intention is to reorient siloed research towards more holistic/relationalbapproaches by addressing multiple intertwined processes (i.e., governance, politics, economics, social realities):

WS1: Water Quality Laboratory Landscape Mapping and Virtual Network;

WS2: Perception,Behaviours, Practices and Ways of Being; WS3: Water & resource recovery facilities system-wide modelling & digital twinning;

WS4: Circular economy approaches: resource recovery, treatment & processing innovations;

WS5: Improving water quality and addressing risk through Nature-based Solutions;

WS6: Policy, legislation and governance;

WS7: Integration, Education and Engagement for Just Water Futures.

Details on who is involved in work streams and specific areas of focus and contribution are available below from our team profile.

Project Team - Profiles and Project Roles

Amber headshot smiling

Full name: Amber Abrams

Title: Senior research officer and RRIP project co-PI

Contact: amber.abrams@uct.ac.za

Work stream(s) involvement and type of work:

WS1 - WS7: As co-PI, Amber provides a pivotal role in research and project coordination, linking all the WS and researchers together.

WS1: Water Quality Laboratory Landscape Mapping and Virtual Network – water quality landscape and capacity mapping; coordinating the mapping efforts across campus and private entities.

WS2: Perception, behaviours, practices and ways of being - social anthropology and engagement work on a number of projects - overseeing the people centred aspects of approaches and interventions that incorporates efforts towards more sustainable water futures through individual, policy and implementation research. Projects include WRC MAR BGI and NbS4AfrRes as well as the ongoing work as part of PaWS (see https://futurewater.uct.ac.za/current-projects).

WS5: Improving water quality and addressing risk through Nature-based Solutions (NbS) Connecting research efforts across projects and WSs; supporting research efforts at the Water Hub; incorporating NbS into curricula through the NbS4AfrRes capacity building project.

WS6: Policy, legislation and governance - integrating physical experimentation and institutional enquiry as part of the ‘Pathways to water resilient South African cities’ project, and working on guidelines/frameworks (i.e. greywater resources and WSD in SA), through WRC MAR BGI project work focused on policy and governance frameworks.

WS7: Integration, Education and Engagement for Just Water Futures – translating research into information for a variety of audiences, projects include Khusela Ikamva and NbS4AfrRes; engagement activities and activations to address people's relations in the water cycle; raising awareness of our place in the Source to Sea cycle; bringing in arts-based and public spaces engagements using research data and science in public translation efforts; working with NGOs and CBOs for learning materials and awareness raising activities.

Links to Amber's profiles:

 https://futurewater.uct.ac.za/about/our-team

https://www.linkedin.com/in/amber-abrams-34375321

https://ebe.uct.ac.za/department-chemical-engineering/contacts/amber-abrams 

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Kirsty headshot

Full name: Kirsty Carden

Title: Associate Professor and Future Water Director

Contact: Kirsty.Carden@uct.ac.za 

Work stream(s) involvement and type of work:

WS1: Water Quality Laboratory Landscape Mapping and Virtual Network – water quality landscape and capacity mapping; brings in expertise and experience from Water Sensitive Design CoP (including Water Map - https://wsudsa.org/water-map/examples-of-water-sensitive-design-projects/). Other relevant project includes AFD BRGM CECs in groundwater.

WS2: Perception, behaviours, practices and ways of being - social learning work as part of the WSD CoP, an approach that incorporates efforts towards more sustainable water futures through individual, policy and implementation research. Projects include WRC MAR BGI and NbS4AfrRes as well as the ongoing work as part of PaWS (see https://futurewater.uct.ac.za/current-projects).

WS5: Improving water quality and addressing risk through Nature-based Solutions (NbS) – supporting research efforts at the Water Hub as part of the TUM WEF nexus Hub (feasibility of water reclamation and reuse using biofiltration); as well as NbS4AfrRes capacity building project.

WS6: Policy, legislation and governance - integrating physical experimentation and institutional enquiry as part of the ‘Pathways to water resilient South African cities’ project, and work on guidelines/frameworks (i.e. greywater resources and WSD in SA), as well as WRC MAR BGI project work focused on policy and governance frameworks.

WS7: Integration, Education and Engagement for Just Water Futures – translating research into information for a variety of audiences, Projects include Khusela Ikamva and NbS4AfrRes

Links to Kirsty's profiles:

https://futurewater.uct.ac.za/about/our-team;

https://ebe.uct.ac.za/department-civil-engineering/aprof-kirsty-carden;

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirsty-carden-608361a/?originalSubdomain=za

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Dyllon headshot 2024

Full name: Dyllon Randall

Title: Professor 

Contact: dyllon.randall@uct.ac.za 

Work stream(s) involvement and type of work:
Prof Randall currently leads work stream 4, “Circular economy approaches: resource recovery, treatment and processing innovations”. He leads the urine-to-fertilizer process at UCT, a pioneering project that converts human urine into valuable fertilizers. This work has resulted in numerous awards and is the cornerstone of UCT’s newest spinoff company called PeeCycling, for which Prof Randall is a co-founder. Broadly, his work focuses on resource recovery from “waste” streams such as wastewaters, mine tailings and human urine. His team develops innovative processes to convert these “waste” streams into value-added products, disrupting the status quo.

Projects aligned/affiliated with RRIP:
Urine bio-bricks and urine bio-tiles
Fertilizer-producing urinal
Geo-tile production from copper mine tailings using geo-polymerization

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Full name: Shalongo Angula

Title/Role: PhD candidate

Contact: Angsha003@myuct.ac.za

Work stream involvement: 
Workstream 3: Water & resource recovery facilities system-wide modelling & digital twinning -  I am currently working on a project that is working towards developing a system-wide digital twin for wastewater reclamation and reuse



 

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