Following the award of the Impact Acceleration Fund to support the piloting of a water knowledge exchange project in Tanzania, we are glad to announce that progress is ongoing to expand the concept in four countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The establishment of the Water Knowledge Exchange Hub is fundamental to the achievement of SDG 4,6 and 16. Our goal is to directly contribute to building local institutional capacities as well as provide a platform for collaborating partners to access credible integrated information on water research, policy, and practice. In addition, considering that development partners and bilateral agencies operating in Sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly trying to coordinate efforts and work from the reality of the local context, the Hub will serve as one of the reference points for anchoring interventions in the water sector on the continent.
How will the Hub be designed?
The Water Knowledge Hub will be a platform that ensures that the myriad water-related research products (e.g., journal articles, books, conference papers etc.) produced through research are synthesised and package into accessible and comprehensible formats for all individuals and organisations. The informational needs of individuals and groups such as water industries, policymakers, the public and practitioners will be taken into consideration and contribute directly to the design and “re-packaging” of research products. This is a unique approach; different from the conventional realms where technical reports, policy briefs, research articles etc are deposited on repository websites with the hope that practitioners and policymakers will access them. The hub will also be offering sponsored training to post-graduate students in the collaborating institutions to encourage a culture of producing and disseminating easily digestible water research products to broaden the impact of their research.
Progress so far:
The Hub has now extended its reach beyond Tanzania and through several meetings with stakeholders has identified new partners in the Southern and Eastern Africa. Two partner Universities have been identified from each region, bringing the number of collaborating institutions to four:
- Kenya: Moi University
- Democratic Republic of Congo : University of Kinshasa
- Tanzania : University of Dar es Salaam
- Zambia : University of Zambia
A drafted costed proposal is ready and has been shared with collaborating partners. To facilitate institutional ownership, collaborating partners have been tasked to identify key priority areas for their countries and institutions; design their budgets and suggest possible synergies with the other collaborating institutional partners. According to Dr Victor Kongo, who is leading this project:
We will be extending our partnership to include other donor organisations and non-governmental organisations across the continent, identify their knowledge needs and see where the hub can contribute effectively
Partners in the various institutions are particularly excited about the impact of the hub on intra-continental learning. Partners in Zambia are particularly excited about using the hub as an opportunity to connect their graduate students recruited under the project to private and government institutions to facilitate knowledge exchange and learning.
In addition to the four collaborating academic institutions, supporting stakeholders include NGO/CSOs, international agencies such as the UNESCO (East Africa), and GWP global office in Stockholm. Members from water@leeds have ensured the provision of necessary technical and administrative support to GWP-Tanzania throughout the process.
Plans are underway to identify grants and donors. The initial budget proposal is costed at about US$5 million. The hub, once funded will be facilitated and coordinated by Global Water Partnership-Tanzania. water@leeds will collaborate with the Hub to identify possible synergies between research conducted by water@leeds members and the participating academic institutions.