The end, but not really the end… what’s the best way to bring to a close over five years of interactions and collaborations? Well, it’s not ideal using Zoom, but we made the best of things on September 21st when we formally handed over the main outputs of UMFULA to the Rufiji Basin Water Board.
The workshop was held to present and discuss findings from work under UMFULA, particularly sharing new results under the extension phase which ran from March 2020 to September 2021. While the Covid pandemic disrupted plans for physical meetings and training sessions in Tanzania, Zoom allowed the project to interact with key partners and stakeholders, and reach its final objectives. The final workshop was a blend of international partners joining remotely with local partners who were together in the Iringa headquarters of the Rufiji Basin Water Office.
A screenshot showing Prof. Japhet Kashaigili (Sokoine University of Agriculture, lead partner for UMFULA in Tanzania) presenting a memory stick with all the UMFULA outputs to Rufiji Basin Director, Eng. Florence Mahay, during a small ceremony at the end of the final workshop.
During the event, UMFULA formally launched a new project Brief – Climate Change Impacts – Implications for Policy and Practice in Tanzania’s Rufiji River Basin – which synthesises the project’s key findings and provides recommendations for management and policy within the basin. Dr. Christian Siderius (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment) then presented results from the project’s main synthesis paper, published in One Earth earlier this year – Climate variability impacts water-energy-food infrastructure performance in Eastern Africa.
UMFULA’s Technical brief entitled: Climate Change Impacts – Implications for Policy and Practice in Tanzania’s Rufiji River Basin
The event also included Prof. Richard Taylor (University College London) who led with Prof. Japhet Kashaigili (Sokoine University of Agriculture) a GroFutures project on groundwater in the Great Ruaha tributary of the Rufiji, as part of the UPGro research programme. Prof Julien Harou (University of Manchester) and PhD student Mikiyas Gonfa (University of Manchester) then presented a new online water resources modelling portal www.waterstrategy.org. UMFULA’s extension work involved transferring the model system developed during the project onto the platform and holding introductory training sessions with the team. The platform can be accessed and runs using open source code. Over time the model of the Rufiji system can be refined, updated and used for exploring the effects of development and climate change scenarios.
With the major Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project well underway, understanding the consequences of upstream river basin development is even more crucial for ensuring reliable energy generation without compromising the downstream environment and other water users.
So – while FCFA funding has ended it’s certainly not the end of our collaboration – we plan to hold follow-on events to profile key results, and discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Water Resources about model development and handover. Some of the elements of UMFULA will continue through two GCRF projects; the Development Corridors Partnership (valuing the use of water in the basin) and FutureDams (online platform for water resources management).
This article was written by Prof. Declan Conway (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment), the Principle Investigator for the UMFULA project.