Student Profile: Mari Joins Okavango Field Project

Following the previous post on the Okavango field project, we’re introducing Mari, one of our mix of BA, BSc, MSc students joining the trip. We’ll be featuring more stories from student and from the field so keep checking on our blog as well as twitter @ KingsWaterKCL !

” I am a final year BA geography student from West Wales graduating this July. I have spent the majority of my three years at King’s trying to find a balance between the human and physical disciplines of the subject. My interests lie in the meeting point of social-political dynamics and the physical conditions they are situated within. I have particularly enjoyed the various political ecology and related modules available at King’s to further this interest.

Throughout my three years here I have found a real passion for research, particularly in the developing country context. Previous studies I have been involved in have included fieldwork in Kerala, India in the second year; as well as a self organised Royal Geographical Society part-funded research trip to Napo in Ecuador to collect dissertation data. These experiences of international research have provided me with valuable experiences of research and other cultures.

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My trip to the Okavango is funded by the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (KURF) under the guidance of Dr. Naho Mirumachi.  It presents a final opportunity to get involved in an interdisciplinary study at King’s and hope to further my research experience with fieldwork in Okavango, Botswana.

I hope to better understand the dynamics of the river delta, including the socio-political structures that influence the river itself as well as development in the region. I also hope to benefit from working within an academic team, as well as in collaboration with students and lecturers from other universities across the world (Australia and the US) within the PLuSAlliance. Hopefully this fieldwork will result in the creation of a new truly interdisciplinary module for future students at King’s – something that I believe is vital to our subject. “

Setting off: Okavango field project for interdisciplinary learning

This month, King’s Water staff and students will travel to the Okavango delta in Botswana for an interdisciplinary project on river sustainability.  As part of the Global River Basins Connections project funded by the PLuS Alliance, a network between Kings, Univ of New South Wales and Arizona State Univ, this trip aims to enhance experiential learning on key issues of river basin management, water cooperation and conflict and human-ecosystem dependence.

The Okavango delta is a significant biodiversity hotspot as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The management of the river requires international cooperation with the river being shared between Botswana, Namibia and Angola.  This basin has also recently experienced drought, making the question of sustainability even more pressing.

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Students from the three universities will working together to practise various field sampling, survey skills and monitoring methods to understand the river and terrestrial environment as well as enhance their knowledge of river basin governance, development and geopolitics in this  transboundary setting.

From King’s Water, Dr Mike Chadwick, Dr Naho Mirumachi and Dr Emma Tebbs coordinates this trip to pilot an interdisciplinary fieldwork module for the Geography Department.  Six undergraduate and master’s students from the department have been selected on a competitive basis to join this trip.

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Video summary: King’s Water colleagues speak at St Paul’s Cathedral

Last month, King’s Water co-convened an event on water politics at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.  This event was part of JustWater, a series of activities by St Paul’s Institute to raise awareness about water issues.

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(Photo credit: Graham Lacdao)

From King’s Water, Dr Naho Mirumachi spoke about the socio-economics and political power asymmetries that determine water use rather than the climate or hydrology.  Prof Tony Allan spoke about the critical role of farmers and consumers in ensuring water stewardship when food production is so dependant on managing water well.

The video of the event can be seen here.