Water is a basic resource upon which communities rely for their health, well-being, and economic development and growth. Many countries struggle with the negative consequences of poor surface-water quality, which may threaten their food security and livelihoods.
The Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State recently co-presented the German-Southern African Summer School 2019 with the Dresden University, Germany, on its Bloemfontein Campus.
Discussions at the Summer School – attended by 66 delegates from Germany and Southern Africa – mainly focused on aquatic biomonitoring and included perspectives from Germany and Southern Africa.
Questions such as ‘How to improve water quality?’ and ‘What about the impact of the catchment area, land use, and agriculture on water quality?’ were discussed.
According to Marinda Avenant, Lecturer in the Centre for Environmental Management, a two-pronged approach is often used: first, ecosystem-based biomonitoring, and second, specialised water quality and toxicity-assessment methods applied at specific sites in order to identify problems.
Presenters from academia, government authorities, and the private sector shared theoretical concepts and practical experiences of establishing aquatic biomonitoring networks in Germany, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), and Zambia.
The Summer School focused on an integrated approach, including catchment processes, hydrology, geomorphology, and land use, as well as chemical and biological monitoring.
Delegates also undertook a field trip to Mokala National Park for a practical demonstration of water-quality monitoring as part of the programme.
The Volkswagen Foundation (Germany) funded the Summer School.