Drop by drop...

19 May 2010 | News story

Water is equally important for the survival and well-being of biodiversity as it is for the survival and well-being of people and sustainable use of its resources is essential for a secure future of both. Dr Emmanuel Mwendera, Water Programme Coordinator for IUCN’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, tackles water challenges with passion and enthusiasm, always looking for long-term benefits - for people and for nature.

Emmanuel’s current work involves leading and coordinating projects that deal with the management of water and wetland resources in east and southern Africa.

‘Water and wetland resources, such as fisheries, support the livelihoods in terms of food and income. But they also form an integral part of entire ecosystems. This is why it is very important that we can assist communities to manage these resources. Otherwise, not only will people lose their livelihoods, but the environment will also be damaged’, says Emmanuel.

One of the main projects which Emmanuel coordinates, is the Pangani River Basin Project, where IUCN and its partners are making sure that local communities learn how to use water resources to protect themselves from impacts of climate change.

The Pangani River Basin in northern Tanzania covers an area of 43,650 square kilometres, and has a population of about 3.4 million people. The basin has the second highest agricultural output in Tanzania, produces 17% of Tanzania’s hydropower and has some of the country’s biodiversity hotspots. But there are frequent droughts and floods in the area, which increase the vulnerability of local people to climate variability and change. The increasing demand for water, due to population and economic growth, has been causing conflicts over the limited water resources among its users. The project is helping local communities resolve these conflicts, manage the basin's water resources more effectively and become more resilient to changes in the climate.

Emmanuel has been working in the water sector for many years, always looking at the broader picture of its challenges. Before joining IUCN, he worked in South Africa preparing integrated water and waste management plans for mines and conducting environmental impact assessment for government and private institutions. He was also Chairperson of the Scientific Research Board of Water Research Fund for Southern Africa, a regional fund that builds research capacity in the water sector among regional institutions and individuals in southern Africa region. His work with the International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia saw him leading a field team that conducted research on interactions between landscape and livestock in grazing systems in Ethiopian highlands.

Emmanuel Mwendera is a Soil and Water Engineer by profession with a B.Sc. in Geography and Earth Sciences from University of Malawi, a Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) and a M.Sc., both in Soil and Water Engineering from Cranfield Institute of Technology (now Cranfield University), UK. He has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences from the Centre for Irrigation Engineering (CIE), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), Belgium. He has served as a consultant for African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), FAO and IUCN in various projects related to water supply and sanitation and water resources management.