Sunday, July 6, 2008

Joint Masters Degree in Water Resources Management Launched

The Georgia Water Resource Management Institute (GWRI) and the University of Pretoria Water Institute (UPWI) have launched of a Master of Science in Water Resources Management degree. The new joint degree program is being offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

“Sustainable water resources development and management are key to economic development and societal change in Africa,” said Professor Aris Georgakakos of Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of GWRI. “This is because water resources are the basis of agricultural activities which, in Africa, employ more than 80 percent of the labor force and generate more than 50 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, water resources support hydropower development, which powers industrial growth.”

Understanding water-related issues and disciplines has a vital impact on environmental and socio-economic change, according to the Georgakakos. “The joint degree program was created with these needs in mind,” he noted. “This educational and applied research program combines the expertise and strengths of the two water institutes with the goal of creating qualified specialists who will ably serve African governments, industries and academia.”

“Currently the world is experiencing a water crisis,” said Professor Eugene Cloete, head of the University of Pretoria’s Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology and leader of the Southern Education and Research Alliance (SERA) Water Task Team. “The collection, dissemination and exchange of water-related information and know-how is therefore a matter of priority to improve the sharing of knowledge and building human capacity concerning water-related issues.”

The UPWI currently has 45 students enrolled at the master’s and PhD levels, including students from Kenya, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Canada, Germany and Mozambique.

GWRI was established in 1964 and is part of a network of water resources institutes operating in each U.S. state. Georgia Tech and GWRI have worldwide research and education involvement including North and South America, Europe, China, Singapore, India and Africa. In particular, GWRI’s involvement in Africa spans more than 20 years and has focused on developing prototype information and decision support systems for water, energy, and environmental resources planning and management in the Nile and Congo River basins. This work is carried out through collaborative relationships with the governments of Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

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