Esther Mabedi, a lecturer in hydrology under the Ndata School of Climate and Earth Sciences at the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) is among three Malawians in the first cohort of Scotland based University of Dundee’s Africa doctoral fellowship scheme.
The UK based university recently launched a multi-million pound Doctoral Fellowship scheme that will bring African researchers to Dundee to complete their doctorates.
The Doctoral Fellowship Scheme is a central element of Dundee University’s Africa Strategy which reflects the commitment to broadening research ties and capacity building with strategic partners across the continent.
Under the scheme, Dundee University has committed to fund 25 PhD places for candidates across Africa over the course of 10 years, with a particular focus on PhD projects that aim to tackle issues throughout the continent.
In the first cohort, five Africans have been awarded the scholarships and three are Malawians and Ms Mabedi is one of the three Malawians. The other two are Colleen Mbughi, a lecturer in Geography at University of Malawi and Gervasio Nyaka, a lecturer at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences.
According to information available on Dundee University website, Mabedi will undertake research within the university’s School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law and will seek to advance methods for assessing, mapping and managing risks to groundwater quality and access, with a particular focus on rural southern Malawi.
In Malawi. groundwater forms the backbone of drinking and domestic-use water service provision, especially in rural areas, where it is estimated to support up to 85% of the rural population.
However, management of groundwater supplies involves addressing a number of difficult challenges, including maintenance of numerous communal supply points (typically hand-pumped boreholes) from which it is accessed, and risks of contamination from geogenic and anthropological pollutants, the statement from Dundee University adds.
“Groundwater is central to our rural areas and provides a lot of things for our communities. Access points are places where communities converge and socialize–it’s more than just a source for us. Having it at its optimal quality and quantity is crucial,” Mabedi is quoted as saying.
“Throughout my PhD, I will be working with a real community in Malawi, looking at their approach in groundwater management and water provision, directly addressing and trying to improve social problems around water supply with the knowledge of science.”
She says her research has potential to inform policy in-country and will have a huge impact on improving how people access water in Malawi, especially by informing how best Malawi can manage water supply, looking at how to that ensure that the water is of good quality all of the time, and how to share information about the water supply system.
“Being able to study that and provide that for these people is important to me. A PhD has always been on my mind, and this is a very exciting opportunity that offers the chance to study at one of the best universities in Scotland,” said Mabedi.