The Third Biennial Southern African Young Water Professionals’ (SAYWP) conference was hosted by the University of Stellenbosch from the 15th to the 18th of July 2013.
The aim of the conference was to provide a forum for young researchers and practitioners across the water sector to present and discuss their work, their ideas, to further career development and groom young professional capacities in a multi-disciplinary environment; as well as encouraging discourse on current and future water concerns.
The YWPs Programme was created to counteract a perceived loss of knowledge brought about by the impending retirement in the water industry. The Programme provides a range of activities, services and initiatives to young professionals and students and connects with employers, academic institutions and other professional associations to ensure that the future needs of the sector are understood and addressed and that inter-generational dialogue is created to form links between senior professionals of the sector and the incoming young professionals.
The conference provided a good platform for participants to meet peers within water and wastewater science, governance, engineering, technology, management and other areas of the water sector.
One of SANBI’s Biodiversity Planning and Policy Advice division Groen Sebenza interns, Boitshekwane Kgantsi, was one of the lucky few who were nominated and sponsored by GreenMatter to attend the SAYWPC 2013. Kgantsi commented that it was a privilege for her to be part of the SAYWP. “It was incredible to take a tour at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research CSIR Hydraulic laboratory for the first time. I am so glad i was part of the SAYWP 2013 professionals, and I intend to make a difference in future”, said Kgantsi.
Different issues and concerns about water such as mine water, environmental impacts on water, water linked ecosystems, wastewater treatment and management, portable water supply and a lot more were discussed through paper and poster presentations by young water professionals from around Africa. Panel discussions were open to all participants and discussions regarding the way forward in dealing with the challenges Africa faces around water security.
The conference concluded with an awards ceremony chaired by Nora Hanke of the Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence. Ms. Bronwyn Camden–Smith was awarded a prize of R10 000 for her presentation on mine water division. Jacqueline Thomas who presented on portable water supply also received an award for her presentation and her prize included flights and accommodation to the 2014 SAYWP.
The last prize consisting of an airline ticket to Taiwan to represent the international YWP conference for 2014 was given to Dr Tobias Bernard who is currently with the University of Johannesburg, and has been with the Young Water Professionals Programme (YWPP) for the past 10 years. Dr Bernard generously declined and suggested that the prize be awarded to the next best oral presentation, as he felt that he had benefitted significantly through the YWPP over the years and would therefore prefer that this opportunity be given to others so that they too can develop through the Young Water Professionals Programme. At the end of the conference Claudia Kruger, the coordinator of the YWPP, thanked everyone for attending and participating at the conference.
For more information on the conference visit: http://saywp2013conference.com/