PhD Programme

WaterNet has a PhD Programme under which Research Fellows are incorporated into ongoing research projects. The PhD students are registered at WaterNet member institutions universities. A group of three PhD students is carryying out research work under the DANIDA funded 5 year project whose major objective is to contribute towards equitable water allocation and benefit sharing in the Zambezi Basin through balancing energy production, improving livelihoods and achieving environmental sustainability. There is another student carrying out her research under the Challenge Programme on Water and Food (CPWF), in the Limpopo Basin. 

The DANIDA funded students are focusing on the following areas:

PhD 1: Ecohydrology: focusing on eco-hydrological effects of increasing hydropower facilities in the Zambezi Basin and the effect of implementing e-flows

PhD 2: Economic: focusing on benefit-cost sharing approaches in the Zambezi Basin, socio-economic benefits of joint operation of hydropower facilities by the riparian states in the Zambezi Basin.

PhD 3: Social: Strengthening of institutional capacities in the Zambezi Basin, social effects of increasing hydropower in the Basin and case studies on early warning systems for drought and floods within the Zambezi Basin.


Meet the 3 PhD Fellows under the DANIDA project

Monde Petrina Mabuku from Namibia

Monde Patrina Mabuku is a full time 1st year PhD student with the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, South Africa. She is fully sponsored by WaterNet on a three-year PhD programme which she registered in 2014.  Her research is a comparative case study of two flood prone areas in Zambia and Namibia, within the Zambezi basin.  Her research focuses on assessing the socioeconomic impacts of floods on rural community, evaluating their level of flood disaster preparedness as well as identifying and evaluating the adaptation strategies employed by both households and national governments to reduce the impacts of floods.

Monde holds the following qualifications, National diploma in forestry, Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with the University of Botswana and Masters degree in Integrated Water Resources Management from the University of Dar es Salaam.  For her MSc degree she specialised in water and land at the at the Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana. She graduated in November 2013 with a distinction. Her research involved the application of Landsat imagery in delineating the flood extent and the impacts of flood on rural households’ food security.

Her long term plans after completing the PhD is to become a research academic in the area of disaster management, climate change, forestry, earth observation and social studies. This area of research would afford her opportunities to mentor young researchers in Africa and increase the number of experts who can add practical value to societies, institutions and governments at large in flood management and policy formulation on water resources and disasters especially floods. Monde sees herself playing a crucial role in improving the livelihoods of rural communities through implementation of projects aiming at building resilience to the impacts of climate variability and change.


Mulenga Kalumba from Zambia

Mulenga holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Zambia and a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering from Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven/Brussels in Belgium.Mulenga is currently registered for PhD studies at the University of Zambia where he also lectures. His area of study is Water Resources Engineering with a bias on the environment and ecosystems with international transboundary features like the Zambezi Basin. His PhD studies are focusing on assessing the increasing effects of hydropower facilities and implementing environmental flow requirements in the Zambezi Basin. The Zambezi basin has seen a dramatic rise in population and economic activities such as the mining industries and subsequently a demand for more energy in the basin and the SADC region as a whole. As such the study seeks to address issues on how best the vast water recourses could be shared among the riparian countries that share the Zambezi basin as they seek to build more hydropower facilities in the basin to meet this energy demand while at the same time not neglect the environment and ecosystems by implementing environmental flow requirements.

Mulenga feels that the PhD programme will enable him to gain research skills and knowledge on transboundary water resources management, catchment and hydrological modelling skills. He holds the view that water resources data collection and management at a regional and international levels are challenging as there is are problems with data limitations in Africa. He hopes to further gain insight on aspects dealing with environmental flows, ecosystems and water allocations and how various institutions within the Zambezi basin riparian countries deal with issues of allocating environmental flows to the environment when there are other competing sectors like domestic, industrial, agriculture and hydropower water rights.

After his PhD studies, Mulenga hopes to conduct more research as well as to publish and to be  promoted to a senior Lecturer. This will enable him to impact knowledge to students at the University of Zambia.

Mulenga wishes to:

  • Become a full Professor later in life after conducting further research and peer reviewed publications.
  • Pioneer in transboundary water resources management in the country and SADC region.
  • Advocate for the inclusion of environmental flow water right to water rights Acts in the country and the Zambezi basin riparian countries.
  • Conduct further research in the basin, conduct lectures, and publications and give presentations at various WaterNet institutions and other affiliating institutions, symposia and forums. >>>

Webster Gumindoga from Zimbabwe 

Webster holds a BSc (Hons) Degree in Geography and  an MSc degree in Environmental Policy and Planning (MEPP) all from the University of Zimbabwe. He also holds MSc degree in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in Water Resources and Environmental Management (WREM), specializing in surface hydrology, from the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente in The Netherlands. He graduated in 2010. Webster is currently teaching in remote sensing for water resources management at the University of Zimbabwe’s Civil Engineering Department and as such has supervised a couple of  MSc theses.

Webster was awarded the DANIDA WaterNet PhD scholarship to carry out Transbounday Research in the Zambezi basin. He is a registered student of Universiteit Twente (ITC) for the PhD. The working title of his PhD work is OBSERVING THE ZAMBEZI BASIN FROM SPACE: Satellite based parameterisation of the Representative Elementary Watershed (REW) model for runoff simulation under environmental changes. This study is an attempt to assess how land conversions and climate changed over the past decades in the Zambezi basin as well as how the hydrological behavior and water balance have been affected. However, in this basin there is limited ground data to effectively analyse land conversions and conduct hydrological modeling for impact assessment. Remote sensing and distributed models present an opportunity to address these pertinent problems in the basin. Thus in this work the innovative distributed Representatives Elementary Watershed (REW) model was chosen to predict the hydrological impacts of climate change and land conversions in the Zambezi basin's Kapombo catchment. However application of this model in climate and land conversion assessments in African basins is not yet tested or explored.

The structure of an REW, however, allows for such application with easier introduction of satellite products. To assess effectiveness of use of meteorological satellite products, multi-variable assessments and sensitivity analysis will be carried out. For the proposed research, it is hypothesized that observing (or knowing) the time-space patterns of rainfall and evapo(transpi)ration in particular allows for more accurate simulation and forecasts. Organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) generate, validate, distribute and archive high-quality data sets and products for operational hydrological applications and implicitly assume that use is effective, also when products are mutually used. A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) from the Advanced Space borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) are used for representing topography in the model. Field investigations of land cover units will be conducted to verify results of the digital land cover classification. Part of this procedure is to collect ground control points by the use of a handheld Global Positioning System (GPS). The most important contribution of this work is to improve model performance by multi-objective model calibration; by assimilating various data sources that also include RS based data in modeling under climate and land conversions.

After completing his PhD studies Webster hopes to contribute to the much needed hands on skills in Sub-Saharan Africa’s data scarce water basins by focusing on developing and applying hydrologic modeling approaches and satellite remote sensing techniques for improved Water Resources Management.


Meet the PhD student under the CPWF Project

Eness Mutsvangwa-Sammie from Zimbabwe 

Eness holds a BSc Honours degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Zimbabwe (2006) and a Masters in Agriculture Economics from The University of the Free State (2011). She registered for her PhD in 2012 with the University of Zimbabwe. She has been working under the Challenge Program on Water and Food, focusing on the Zimbabwean side of the Limpopo Basin. Her study focuses on pathways of agricultural innovations and their impact on rural livelihoods and natural resources management in Gwanda and Insiza District of Zimbabwe. The study seeks to acess whether the way agricultural innovations are conceptualised and  implemented, able to deliver sustainable agricultural based livelihoods? We argue that it is unlikely given the inherent  weakness in the  common existing approaches. What is needed is; 1) a proper contextualisation of the prevailing biophysical and socio-economic conditions 2) A theoretical understanding of the peculiarities of agricultural innovations 3) Understanding the nature of rural livelihoods. There is so much, in terms of  investment from various stakeholders (donors, researchers, policy makers, NGOs etc) towards rural development over the years, with not much positive results being realised. This study seeks come up with potential strategies to address this. 

After her PhD, Eness would like to continue working in the rural development sector, making use of the skills that she has acquired over the years to make a meaningful difference in the lives of rural people within the region and beyond.