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.