Associate Professor Martin Andersen, Director of Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre and PHD student, Ms Phillipa Higgins, visited USP’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu from 31 October to 3 November 2018.
The team participated in the ongoing PIURN (Pacific Islands Universities Research Network) collaborative project led by Dr Krishna Kotra at Emalus Campus and also in the water sample collection in Efate and five outer islands. Additionally, the team undertook some preliminary observations in the Tagabe River catchment, Port Vila along with staff from the Department of Water Resources.
As part of the visit, USP’s Emalus Campus arranged a workshop on water sampling techniques and analysis. Students and staff of USP participated in this work along with staff from the Vanuatu Government’s Department of Water Resources.
Mr Ruben Markward, Campus Director, welcomed the team and the opportunity to work with UNSW adding that he appreciated the opportunity and the work in light of many challenges associated with water.
“We look forward to your collaboration with USP through our Science Programme Coordinator, Dr Kotra,” he said.
Dr Kotra said that collaboration with UNSW would further enhance the research activities and development at the campus for students and staff.
Reflecting on the project initiation, he said this is an era of collaborative research and parties must benefit from mutual expertise leading to a win-win situation.
“Groundwater research in the SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is the need of the hour and Vanuatu needs studies related to better management and quality of groundwater,” he said.
He further explained that USP’s Emalus Campus has been at the forefront in attracting world renowned universities and national research centres to carry out research in Vanuatu and the Pacific.
“Despite limitations, collaborators believe in our ideas and logistical support and are thus coming forward to undertake cutting-edge research studies in collaboration with USP in Vanuatu and the Pacific,” he added.
Dr Mansour Assaf, In-country Science Programme Coordinator, stated that The Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) has been promoting for the participation of students in research activities which is in line with the current Vanuatu In-country Science Programme (VISP).
He urged Ni-Vanuatu students to utilise the VISP opportunity to graduate from in-country and thus be part of these kinds of research workshops and trainings being conducted at Emalus Campus.
He further stated that, theoretical knowledge coupled with practical experience would certainly benefit the students in their academic and professional development.
A/Prof Andersen was pleased to experience firsthand the work that Dr Krishna Kotra, along with collaborators Erie Sami and Michael Maniel at the Vanuatu Department of Water Resources, are doing to improve and expand the water quality monitoring programme.
“It has been a great experience to work with the team in the field and later in the lab and to exchange ideas and methods of good practice”.
The UNSW team hope to expand the collaboration with a project on the impacts of climate change on island groundwater resources.
Ms Philippa Higgins, PhD student at UNSW said, “It was such a great opportunity to visit the Efate communities and see the benefits of the Community Water Management Plans in practise. I welcome future opportunities to work closely with USP and the Department”.