The contribution of the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA) to knowledge production and policy in the SADC water sector

Elema, Nico Michiel (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has been adopted by member states in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as the process to best manage water resources, with research as a major component in the process. Moreover, it is increasingly a requirement for universities and research institutions to indicate the benefit of their research. With various universities and research institutions (and varying levels of resources) conducting water research in the SADC region, outputs from the Water Research Fund of Southern Africa (WARFSA) provides an opportunity to analyse the impact of such research, given the regional nature of the programme. Moreover, given that the WARFSA was implemented between 1999 and 2007, the time-lag provide an opportunity to analyse the contribution to knowledge production, and specifically the scientific (citation) impact and, given its mandate from the SADC ministers, policy uptake. However, as no mechanism was put in place to attribute and monitor economic, ecological and social benefits from the WARFSA, this was excluded from the study. Applying a mixed methods approach, various aspects relating to water research knowledge production and policy uptake of research were investigated, resulting in this thesis being divided into three parts. Part A framing the research project, Part B presenting a SADC water sectoral analysis and analysis of knowledge production in the SADC region, and Part C presenting results from the analysis of knowledge production and policy aspects of the Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA). Research methodologies comprised a literature review to determine a theoretical framework, and an analysis of previous empirical studies on the scientific contribution of water research in the SADC region, and research on knowledge produced and citation impact. In addition, scientometric techniques were used to analyse citation data from water publications in the SADC region between 1980 and 2016, and knowledge produced from research projects funded through the WARFSA. Lastly, interviews were conducted with researchers and stakeholders involved in the WARFSA programme, to ascertain policy uptake from the WARFSA. As the study has shown, researchers affiliated with South African universities and research institutions have produced 84% of water research in the region, and for this reason, bibliometric data was first analysed to include citation data from all SADC countries, then South African citation data on its own, which was followed by SADC countries were South African citation data was excluded (referred to in the study as ‘SADC-ExSA’ countries). As already mentioned, one of the main findings from the study was that water research in the SADC region was mainly produced by South African researchers. However, on a per capita basis, researchers from Botswana, followed by the Seychelles and then South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe had produced the most water research. As most previous bibliometric studies were conducted on the South African water sector, findings from the analysis of citation data from South African researchers supported the previous bibliometric studies. The analysis of citation data from SADC-ExSA countries provided a clearer picture of the contribution the WARFSA programme has made to knowledge production in the region, especially when comparing citation data before and after the implementation period of WARFSA in the early 2000s. It was further evident that most of the 78 research projects funded through the WARFSA were implemented in SADC-ExSA countries, and benefited these countries most. If one were to consider only water research output in SADC-ExSA countries during the implementation period of WARFSA between 1999 and 2007, a significant increase is observed during this period. In addition, the study highlights the significance of the annual WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP SA symposium, which was initially presented along with WARFSA and continued after the initial two phases of the WARFSA. The study further highlighted the large contribution of external donor funding towards water research in especially SADC-ExSA countries, which some could argue borders on a dependency on external funding, when compared to more local support for water research in South Africa. In terms of the contribution of the WARFSA towards policy uptake, the study highlighted the gap between the research community and policymakers, the mixed involvement of practitioners and policymakers in the research projects and the positive role of intermediaries and knowledge brokers in the WARFSA-funded projects. Finally, the study highlighted the challenges in attributing research findings to policy relevance. In conclusion, this study recommends the potential adaptation of the HERG Payback framework to reflect ecological benefits resulting from research better. Moreover, such adaptations to the HERG Payback framework could strengthen future phases of the WARFSA to identify, monitor and report the benefits of research. In addition, such a monitoring function should be established outside research projects, to support research projects better.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geïntegreerde Waterhulpbronbestuur (GWHB) is deur die Suider-Afrikaanse Ontwikkelingsgemeenskap (SAOG) aanvaar as ʼn proses om waterhulpbronne te bestuur, met navorsing wat ʼn sleutelkomponent in die proses vervul. Daar word ook al hoe meer van universiteite en navorsingsinstellings verwag om die voordele van navorsing aan te dui. In die SAOG is daar dan ook verskeie universiteite en navorsinginstellings wat waternavorsing onderneem, met verskillende vlakke van toegang tot hulpbronne. Gegewe hierdie streeksverband, bied die Waternavorsingsfonds vir Suidelike Afrika (WNFSA) die geleentheid om die bydrae tot kennisproduksie van sodanige waternavorsing te ondersoek. Die WNFSA is tussen 1999 en 2007 geïmplementeer, wat die geleentheid bied om die bydrae wat die fonds tot die skep van kennis gemaak het, te ondersoek, en in die besonder die wetenskaplike (sitasie) impak en, gegewe die SAOG- ministeriële mandaat, die bydrae tot beleidsformulering. Daar is egter geen meganisme beskikbaar gestel om die ekonomiese, ekologiese en maatskaplike voordele van die navorsing te identifiseer en te monitor nie, en daarom het hierdie aspekte nie deel uitgemaak van die studie nie. Deur van verskeie navorsingsmetodes gebruik te maak, is aspekte wat verband hou met die skep van kennis en beleidsformulering van waternavorsing ondersoek, wat daartoe gelei het dat hierdie tesis in drie dele verdeel is. In Afdeling A word die afbakening van die studie uiteengesit. Afdeling B bied ʼn oorsig oor die SAOG-watersektor en ʼn analise van kennisproduksie in die SAOG, terwyl Afdeling C die resultate van kennis wat deur die WNFSA gegenereer is, bied asook sekere beleidsaspekte wat met WNFSA verband hou. Navorsingsmetodes het ʼn literatuurstudie om die teoretiese raamwerk vas te stel, ingesluit deurdat vorige empiriese studies wat kennisproduksie van waternavorsing in die SAOG ondersoek het, asook navorsing wat verband hou met kennisproduksie en sitasie-impak ondersoek is. Daar is verder wetenskaplike tegnieke gebruik om sitasie-data van waternavorsingpublikasies wat tussen 1980 en 2016 gepubliseer is te analiseer, asook waternavorsingpublikasies wat vanuit die WNFSA gepubliseer is. Laastens is onderhoude met navorsers en rolspelers wat by die WNFSA betrokke was, gevoer om beleidsaspekte te ondersoek. Omdat navorsers wat met Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite geaffilieer is, 84% van alle waternavorsing wat ondersoek is, gepubliseer het, is die bibliometriese data eerstens geanaliseer om sitasie-data van alle SAOG-lande in te sluit, gevolg deur die analise van slegs Suid-Afrikaanse sitasie-data, wat daarna gevolg is deur die analise van sitasie-data van SAOG-lande waarvan Suid-Afrikaanse data uitgesluit is (in die studie na verwys as ‘SADC-ExSA’-lande). Soos reeds genoem, was een van die hoofbevindinge na aanleiding van die studie dat waternavorsing in die SAOG-streek tot dusver meestal deur Suid-Afrikaanse navorsers gedoen is. Wanneer data egter op ʼn per kapita-basis voorgestel word, het navorsers van Botswana, gevolg deur die Seychelle-eilande en dan Suid-Afrika, Namibië en Zimbabwe die meeste waternavorsing geproduseer. Bevindinge met betrekking tot die analise van Suid-Afrikaanse sitasie-data was ook in oorstemming met verskeie ander vorige bibliometriese studies, wat grotendeels op die Suid-Afrikaanse watersektor gefokus het. Die analise van sitasie-data van SADC-ExSA-lande skep ʼn duideliker beeld van die bydrae wat die WNFSA-program tot die skep van kennis in die streek gehad het, veral wanneer sitasie data van voor en ná die implementeringstydperk van die WNFSA in die vroeë 2000s ontleed en vergelyk word. Daar is verder bevind dat die meeste van die 78 navorsingsprojekte wat deur die WNFSA befonds is, in SADC-ExSA-lande geïmplementeer is, en hierdie lande die meeste bevoordeel het. Indien slegs waternavorsing van SADC-ExSA-lande oorweeg word, word ʼn opmerklike toename in publikasieuitsette waargeneem, in die besonder vir die tydperk tussen 1999 en 2007, wat ooreenstem met die implementeringstydperk van die WNFSA. Die studie het verder die opmerklike rol wat die jaarlikse WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP SA-simposium speel beklemtoon. Dié simposium is aanvanklik saam met en daarna voortgesit ná die implementeringstydperk van die WNFSA. Die studie beklemtoon verder die aansienlike bydrae wat eksterne befondsers tot waternavorsing in SADC-ExSA-lande maak. Hierdie bydrae wat volgens sommige mense aan ʼn afhanklikheid grens, veral wanneer meer plaaslike ondersteuning in Suid-Afrika opgemerk word. Die bydrae van die WNFSA tot beleidsaspekte word gestaaf deur die gaping tussen die navorsingsgemeenskap en besluitnemers, die gemengde betrokkenheid van praktisyns en beleidvormers by navorsingsprojekte en die positiewe rol wat tussengangers en kennis-makelaars in die WNFSA-befondsde projekte gespeel het. Laastens beklemtoon die studie die uitdagings wat ondervind word om die invloed wat navorsingsbevindings op beleidsaspekte het, te identifiseer. Ter afsluiting beveel die studie aanpassing van die HERG Payback-raamwerk aan om ook die ekologiese voordele wat navorsing teweeg kan bring, te reflekteer. Verder kan sodanige aanpassings toekomstige fases van die WNFSA versterk om navorsingsvoordele te identifiseer, te monitor en te rapporteer. Daarbenewens moet so ʼn moniteringsfunksie buite navorsingsprojekte tot stand kom om navorsingsprojekte beter te ondersteun.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106050
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