blog post series from the okavango delta

Staff and students from King’s Water are en route to the Okavango basin.  As a third entry to our series of blog posts on the fieldtrip to this unique river basin, MA student, Hanna Chorbachi reports on what she’s looking forward to during the trip.  This exciting trip will aim to understand the complex sustainability challenges of the Okavango delta and is part of a joint project of the PLuS Alliance with University of New South Wales and Arizona State University.  See previous blog posts here and here.

I’m a Masters student on the Geopolitics, Territory and Security programme at King’s. I completed my undergraduate degree at Exeter University, in English Literature and International Relations. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had a keen focus on resource use in literature, and how changing land use was represented in memoirs. After graduating, I knew I wanted to apply my knowledge of resource use and its impacts in a real-world context, hence the decision to study a Geography Masters at King’s. My thesis focuses on the multi-scalar network of actors that are involved in managing the Okavango. I look at how actors other than the state, such as the international level (both NGOs and foreign governments), and the local level, influence the riparian governments’ dominant basin management narratives.

Throughout my Masters, I’ve taken modules in the Political Economy of the Environment; Water, Security and the Environment; and the Geopolitics of Natural Resource Disputes. I’ve also audited modules in the Political Economy of Oil and Gas, and Water Resources and Management. This has given me a breadth and depth of knowledge in the field of resource management. Furthermore, through attending events and seminars hosted by King’s throughout the year including the public perceptions of climate change, and hydro-hegemony, my interests have been steered in the direction of water management, transboundary issues, and power relations.

Outside of King’s, I’m a volunteer speaker for WaterAid, and have just secured a job in the UK Civil Service. As part of DEFRA, I will be working in their international conservation team, helping to realise green corridors for wildlife, and create programmes that foster positive human-wildlife relations across Southern Africa.

The trip to the Okavango Delta will be highly beneficial in multiple ways. Firstly, I will have the opportunity to listen to lectures from leading academics from the universities involved in the PLuS Alliance, as well as lectures from partners that manage the area directly. By experiencing the Delta first-hand, I hope to gain an understanding of how basin management decisions affect both humans and the ecosystem, and understand the trade-off that occurs between plans for socio-economic and infrastructural development, and wishes to protect the environment. I will also be helping to examine data on the biodiversity of the area, which is important for monitoring ecosystem health. Finally, the trip will allow me to experience one of the areas I will be working on in my role at DEFRA, meaning I will be more experienced and knowledgeable about the on-the-ground reality of an area I will be helping to manage in the future.

PhD Researcher Profile: Meng Zhang

Meng Zhang graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Tianjin University of Technology, China, and a master’s degree in Pollution and Environmental Control from the University of Manchester, UK. After years of study in the field of environmental science, Meng has a broad understanding and grasp of environment knowledge in water, atmosphere, solid waste, environmental monitoring and assessment. However, Meng is most interested in water environment and water ecosystem. During his master’s degree, he practiced water quality monitoring and microbial analysis in the Peak District and Prays Mountain.
Meng is now pursuing a doctorate in water pollution at the Department of Geography, King’s College London., supervised by Dr. Michael Chadwick.
Meng’s study had three main directions. First, the effects of nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon on water quality in time and space, and explore the relationship between their effects and land use types. Second, explore the uptake and regeneration of nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon at the sediment-water interface. This is crucial to the current water quality and water ecological restoration. Many studies have shown that when exogenous pollution of water bodies is effectively controlled, the water bodies may still be polluted by the release of nutrients from sediments to the overlying water. Third, explore the metabolism of river ecosystem through the change rate of dissolved oxygen.
China is facing the challenges of urban river pollution control, Meng chooses Beijing for his study. He is also doing experiment with tributaries of the Thames River in London to provide richer data on potential comparisons between the water quality of urban rivers in the two capitals.
Meng’s three water words:
For more about research opportunities with King’s Water, check out our website. To keep up to date, follow us on Twitter!

10th Hydro-hegemony Conference (HH10)

King’s Water is pleased to co-host the 10th Hydro-hegemony conference (HH10).  This conference will be of interest to those working on transboundary water issues and the politics of water in general.  The conference is open to both academics and practitioners, following the eclectic spirit of the London Water Research Group which has driven the hydro-hegemony conversations for the last decade plus.

Read the conference concept note here, as well as details below.


The 10th Hydro-hegemony conference (HH10) discusses ‘The Power of Representation & the Representation of Power in Water Conflict and Cooperation’. The conference is co-organised by IHE Delft, Wageningen University & Research, King’s College London, the University of East Anglia, and the London Water Research Group, supported by the City of The Hague, the Netherlands. It will take place on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 October 2019 in the Humanity Hub, a venue within easy reach of Den Haag Central Station.

The HH10 conference provides a platform to discuss representation of interests and issues as well as representation through discourses, narratives and images. It will focus on the following two questions:

  • Who and what is (not) represented in transboundary water decision making?
  • How are transboundary water issues (re)presented?

More information can be found in the attached call for papers.

We invite researchers, students and practitioners to address these questions and submit:

  • a proposal for a 90-minute session including speakers with a word limit of 500 words, or
  • an abstract for a 15-20-minute paper presentation with a word limit of 300 words

Young researchers are especially encouraged to apply.

The deadline to submit your proposal or abstract is 31 July via

Participation to the conference is free, but registration is required. Please register here:

For questions please do not hesitate to email to

On behalf of the organisers,


Jenniver Sehring, Rozemarijn ter Horst, Emanuele Fantini, Jeroen Warner, Sumit Vij, Naho Mirumachi and Mark Zeitoun


Blog post series from the Okavango delta

As a second entry to our series of blog posts following the staff/student field trip to understanding the complex sustainability challenges of the Okavango delta, we have a student profile by Heather this week.  This trip is a joint project of the PLuS Alliance with University of New South Wales and Arizona State University.


Into the Okavango Delta by Heather Needham

I am a first-year undergraduate student currently studying BSc Geography at King’s. During my first year at university, I have found studying modules themed around biodiversity, climate change, hydrology and natural hazards really interesting.

Outside of university, I have recently completed a two-week internship at the Royal Geographical Society, and I represent the Society as a Geography Ambassador.

It is an honour to be awarded a King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship which gives me the opportunity to travel to the Okavango Delta this month. This will be a new experience for me as it the first time I have flown outside of Europe.  I will be joined by students from the University of Arizona and the University of New South Wales in which we will help preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Botswana, I will be exploring the physical and human processes that affect the wetland. This enables me to advocate conservation through the exploration, collection and analysis of data in the Okavango which supports my ambition to protect and conserve natural landscapes. In particular, I will be assisting Michael Chadwick on his research examining the factors that affect the ecosystem services in Botswana. Specifically, I will be investigating how disease affects Botswana spatially.

Even though writing my dissertation is still quite far off, the research trip to Botswana will enable me to understand how to conduct a field research project abroad and what is involved in higher academic research. This will give me the experience and skills I need to fuel my ambition to be the first in my family to obtain a Doctoral Degree.



Okavango 2019: Exploring the unique delta

For the third year running, we’re off to the Okavango delta in Botswana as part of a river sustainability project funded by the PLuS Alliance.  With a group of staff and students from King’s, as well as fellow colleagues from University of New South Wales and University of Arizona, we will look at the socio-ecological challenges and opportunities of this unique river basin.

Daniel Ramsay tells us what he is looking forward to during this trip:

I am a master’s student currently studying MSc Environmental monitoring, modelling and management with a three-year background in studying BSc Geography, which has led to specific interests in exploring substantial environmental change over time using remote sensing analysis and the impacts future climate projections have on these landscapes.

I have further developed my skills within these fields across several modules King’s has offered this year including monitoring and modelling environmental change, ultimately leading to a drive and passion for further exploring a particular environmental landscape under threat for my dissertation research.

I have previous experience in this study field from research analysis with regards to studying environmental change across the Murray Darling Basin in South Eastern Australia using remote sensing techniques to assess the vast drying of one of Australia’s most crucial ecosystem resources for my undergraduate dissertation.

Using this previous experience motivated me to develop my master’s dissertation, which involves using satellite data to map wetland cover and change while using a hydrological climate model to assess the future changes across the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

I am lucky enough to have the opportunity thanks to King’s Water to travel to the Delta come July 2019, to further develop my understanding of the region first hand while also allowing for the collection of ground truth data which will supplement, support and give an accuracy for my desk-top research. I am hoping this exciting opportunity will provide me with not only great experience in developing my fieldwork skills but the determination in providing valuable research results for the people of Botswana in helping to preserve their one-of-a-kind heritage site