Water’s fate explored

2018-04-18 06:01
Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli (left), leader of the University of the Free State (UFS) research team and Dr Victor Okorie, of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the UFS.Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli (left), leader of the University of the Free State (UFS) research team and Dr Victor Okorie, of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the UFS.Photo: Rulanzen Martin

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Dr Thulisile Mphambukeli, leader of the University of the Free State (UFS) research team, alongside Dr Victor Okorie of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, will participate at the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) Summit.

This is set to be held in the last week of May in Johannesburg. The pair from the UFS will be accompanied by Prof. Lere Amusan of the North-West University.

This year’s is the tenth annual Brics Summit where the focus will be on preserving water and food security.

It is titled “Exploring the political economy of water and food security nexus in Brics and Africa”.

The Brics Think Tank Forum will be hosted by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

According to Mphambukeli, the key to water security is attitudinal change by means of education and concretisation.

She is adamant that it holds the potential to drive beha­vioural adjustments in the way society interacts with water.

Okorie asserts that if strides towards reducing the demand for water were to be made, research efforts should be geared towards effecting changes at DNA level, meaning humans need to explore waterwise ways that enable crops and animals to thrive optimally. The project will also look at social dimensions of water such as flushing a toilet.

“Research activities on redesigning toilets, especially the urinal, where more than nine litres of water are used to flush less than one cubic centimetre of urine, are timely in the context of managing water and the food nexus crises,” said Okorie.

Combining the genetic and social approaches would allow humans to produce more with a smaller water footprint. This can be made possible by implementing precision agriculture which is about estima­ting and applying exact quantities of water and nutrients needed to produce crops or the raising of livestock.

Amusan said the team intended to propose functional solutions that take the quality of water into consideration.

“Equitable production and distribution of water depends on endorsing policies of co-production between citizens, governments and the public sector. Brics member states mutually consider water and food security as an issue of paramount significance, hence its feature on this summit’s agenda,” said Amusan.

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