Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overview of the current state of water-related research in Mozambique and Southern Africa


As a preparation for the 1st scoping workshop of the soon to be established UNU institute for integrated management of material fluxes and of resources (UNU-FLORES) this document aims at providing a brief overview about the current state of water-related research (only freshwater) in Mozambique and neighbouring countries. The focus will be on water, since this is supposed to be the core issue of the proposed twin institute besides soil and waste, which will be considered in a later phase of preparation of the Mozambican Twin of UNU-FLORES. The importance of water research and water management is clearly recognized both in the scientific community and by the Mozambican Government, as indicated by several recent initiatives: a Mozambican symposium on water resources which took place in Maputo in September 2010, hosting of yet another large conference (WATERnet) in 2011 (see below), the launch of a new Masters course at UEM (see below) and plans to establish a water research institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
This brief overview is based on experience gained while being involved in the initiative for establishing UNU-FLORES and its Mozambican twin. A first query in the ISI web of Science (search term “water AND Mozambique”) as well as general internet queries using the same search terms were additionally performed. To some extent the scope of this overview includes neighbouring countries, too, but South Africa was deliberately neglected in this respect, since much more information is available to be covered in a brief overview intended here. Among the other neighbouring countries of Mozambique, the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, closely affiliated with WATERnet (, a regional network of university departments and research and training institutes specialising in water, located also in Harare, stands out in being very active in water issues. WATERnet is the regional network within Cap-Net (, an International Network for Capacity Building in Water Resources Management by UNDP. In October 2011 Maputo will host the 12th WATERnet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium, the largest scientific event on water, gathering more than 300 delegates. As with South-Africa, this document is not intended to fully cover activities documented on WATERnet.
As first general impression it emerges that international visibility of water-related science in Mozambique is increasing concerning papers available in web of science. However, rather few papers were found with the first author’s affiliation being in Mozambique. Many more project reports, Masters thesis and dissertations containing valuable information on water-related issues are principally available (but harder to find). It should also be noted that documents in Portuguese, which certainly may have a large impact in Mozambique, were not considered here.
Within Mozambique research activities related to water are clearly concentrated in Maputo, at Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in the faculties of Engineering and Agriculture. In the department of Civil Engineering of UEM in 2010 a Masters Course in Hydraulics and Water Resources (first edition) has been launched. Until recently UEM was the only public University in Mozambique. The second, and only recently established public University in Mozambique, Uni Zambeze in Beira, with satellite stations distributed among several cities, is planning to put a focus on water research in the future. A recently (summer 2010) proposed joined project by TUD and Uni Zambeze (water quality assessment, including aquatic ecotoxicology) is anticipated to become the starting point in this direction.

Below, current and recent research (and development) activities, mainly in Mozambique, are grouped into major research directions. Examples given for each of the research directions are indeed meant to represent examples, without claiming to be comprehensive.
Drinking water supply
In a country where according to current official figures nearly half of the country´s population and about 45 per cent of urban residents do not have access to safe water (Matsinhe, 2008), this is certainly an issue of vital importance. Accordingly, many projects work on improving the situation, funded both by national (e.g. Joaquim Chissano Foundation) and international (e.g. WaterAid) donors. Local water suppliers are certainly involved in several R & D projects both in the Maputo area (Águas de Moçambique, projects G-MOSAIC, MyWATER and TRUST) and in rural regions (e.g. FIPAG, Devex project). Research acitivies are also concentrated on this issue, ranging from rather technical aspects of desalination (Arnal, Garcia-Fayos, Sancho et al., 2010) and methods of improving drinking water treatment (Matsinhe, 2008) to management and regulation aspects of service providers (Matsinhe, Juizo, Macheve et al., 2008, Matsinhe, Juizo, Rietveld et al., 2008). With few exceptions (Godfrey, Timo & Smith, 2005, Muiuane, 2007) groundwater supply seems to be largely neglected in current research activities, but since 2008 a groundwater network was established within WATERnet. In the context of water supply also social implication within communities (Baptista, 2010) and gender issues (Afonso, 2004) are considered.
=>Many projects, some research; Groundwater still understudied

Waste water treatment
Sanitation and waste water treatment is increasingly becoming an issue especially in the larger cities. Similar to water supply, many donors are active in projects aimed at improving the situation (e.g. IRC, WASHCost project; nuffic, Water and Sanitation). For the case of Maputo insufficient infrastructure gives rise to heavy surface and groundwater pollution posing significant health and environmental risks. From a modelling study it was concluded, however, that a full-scale collection and treatment of sewage will not be sustainable and that small-scale systems might be a better option (Chan, 2004). Such challenges generally hold for many regions of southern Africa (Nyenje, Foppen, Uhlenbrook et al., 2010).
=>Many projects, some research

Flood protection
Mozambique is naturally prone to being effected by floods and has development ample experience in coping with them (Vaz, 2000, Hanlon & Frances, 2002, Kampfer, 2009). This positive account holds both for municipal authorities especially concerning warning systems (Kampfer, 2009) as well as local people adapting their life style (Artur, 2008). New techniques for improving early warning and monitoring systems are being developed (Asante, Macuacua, Artan et al., 2007).

Water quality assessment
The need for water quality assessment and management programs is long recognized in Mozambique (Hugman, 1984) and some attempts for implementation were made (Chilundo, Kelderman & Okeeffe, 2008). For Zambezi River, the assessments from various periods and countries are available, covering aspects of biodiversity, morphology etc. (HALL, VALENTE & DAVIES, 1977, Timberlake, 1998, Scott, 2010, Ronco, Fasolato, Nones et al., 2010) . Systematic investigations and longer-term monitoring programs still seem to be scarce though. Involving local stakeholders and indigenous knowledge and practices in water quality monitoring in this respect seems a promising approach (Nare, Love & Hoko, 2006).
The proposed project of TUD-UNI Zambeze could be an important building block in establishing a comprehensive monitoring scheme as basis for integrated water management. This project will start in 2011 as a pilot study for 2 years, which afterwards is intended to be extended and upgraded both in spatial scale and scope.

Integrated water resource management
Putting water quality assessment into a wider perspective, it is typically incorporated in integrated water resource management (IWRM) schemes. IWRM, being a great challenge in itself within UNU-FLORES is anticipated to be upgraded to an even higher level of understanding which would bring more efficient and sustainable management results. IWRM is a central issue in e.g. WATERnet and seems to be generally accepted as state of the art concept within the scientific community. In principle, IWRM is considered within the legal framework concerning the water sector in many countries, also in Mozambique. Detailed management plans for specific regions or watersheds and their implementation still seem to lag behind though. Identifying a priority ranking of the fundamental factors affecting the implementation of IWRM schemes may be helpful to bring about (and review) progress in this respect (Gallego-Ayala & Juizo, 2010). An important prerequisite is certainly the comprehensive compilation of geographic, climatic and hydrologic conditions as well as land use as provided e.g. for the Limpopo watershed (Brito, Famba, Munguambe et al., 2009). In addition there is a need for good data on water demand (Gumbo, Juizo & van der Zaag, 2003), which is strongly increasing in many regions, especially due to irrigation projects (van der Zaag, Juizo, Vilanculos et al., 2010)
Clearly, any management scheme to be implemented requires involving local people and communities (Scodanibbio & Manez, 2005). Within this context also broader approaches for, e.g. assessing risks from climate change (Hahn, Riederer & Foster, 2009), including also the gender aspect (Ribeiro & Chauque, 2010) have to be considered. Likewise, other resources than water (Twomlow, Love & Walker, 2008) have to be taken into account.

Supra-national water management issues and examples
Virtually all major rivers in Mozambique are shared with other countries. Transboundary management plans and decision making therefore is simply a necessity. This issue has been addressed with respect to many aspects, from water quantity estimation (Matondo & Mortensen, 1998, Juizo & Lidén, 2008) as an important basis for management plans to their political implementation (Juizo & Hjorth, 2009, Slinger, Hilders & Juizo, 2010).


Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo;
Universidade Zambeze, Beira;
Instituto de Investigação em Águas (IIA, Ministry of Science and Technology), Maputo;
Contacts to the following institutions in Mozambique need to be established:
Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentável em Recursos Naturais, Chimoio; International Center for Water Economics and Governance in Africa, Maputo; International Water Management Institute, Maputo; Laboratório de Engenharia de Moçambique, Maputo; Parque Nacional da Gorongosa, Beira-Gorongosa;
Further:… see partners in WATERnet

Water supply/Sanitation
Águas de Moçambique (AdeM), water supply Maputo (more?): G-MOSAIC, MyWATER and TRUST
FIPAG (Fundo do Investimentoe Património do Abastecimento de Água), water supply Beira (more?)
Ministry for Science and Technology in Mozambique, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment,
Instituto National de Gestão de Calamidades (INGC),
Conselho Regulardo da Agua (CRA)
Direccão Nacional de Aguas(DNA)
Regional Water Administration of Southern Mozambique (ARA-Sul): see projects AdeM,
other regions: ARA-Centro, ARA-Zambeze, ARA-Centro-Norte,
(incomplete..), see also database on ongoing cooperation projects, which is called ODAMOZ (

Water and Sanitation Program (WSP)
DEVEX international development business, careers, news
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, NL
Univ Politecn Valencia, Dept Chem & Nucl Engn, Valencia, Spain (Arnal et al. 2010)
Lund University, Department of Water Resources Engineering, Sweden (Juizo, 2008, Matsinhe, 2008)
Nuffic (Nederlandse Organisatie voor internationale samenwerking in het hoger onderwijs): Water and Sanitation
UNICEF (Godfrey et al. 2005)
University of Cambridge, department of engineering, centre for sustainable development, UK (Chan 2004)
University of Halle, Germany (Baptista 2010)
University of Wisconsin, USA (Hahn et al. 2009)
Wageningen University and Research Centre, Irrigation and Water Engineering Group (NL)

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  2. Arnal, J.M., Garcia-Fayos, B., Sancho, M., Verdu, G. & Lora, J. (2010) Design and installation of a decentralized drinking water system based on ultrafiltration in Mozambique. Desalination 250, 613-617.
  4. Asante, K.O., Macuacua, R.D., Artan, G.A., Lietzow, R.W. & Verdin, J.P. (2007) Developing a flood monitoring system from remotely sensed data for the Limpopo basin. Ieee Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 45, 1709-1714.
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  8. Chilundo, M., Kelderman, P. & Okeeffe, J.H. (2008) Design of a water quality monitoring network for the Limpopo River Basin in Mozambique. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 33, 655-665.
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