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Otlaadisa Tafila

Otlaadisa Tafila



Otlaadisa Tafila



Programme of Study

Doctor of Philosophy in Spatial Sciences


  1. You were chosen as a beneficiary of this scholarship, out of several applicants across the SADC region. How does this make you feel?
  1.  I am delighted and feel honored to have been granted this noble opportunity. Acceptance into the SASSCAL Graduate Studies Programme in Integrated Water Resources Management has brought the much-needed light in my professional career goal of being an all-rounded hydrogeologist. Being awarded this opportunity reflects the effort I have invested for the past decade in my geoscience career both from the academic and corporate world which I am grateful of. BMBF, NUST, SGSP-IWRM, ICWRGC and SASSCAL, I am proud to be listed among your first cohort of this program!


  1. What motivated you to take up studies in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)?
  1. I aspire to be a professional hydrogeologist. My journey in this field began when I started geophysical groundwater exploration projects and conducting some research in this specific field where I have co-authored a paper presented at the SADC-International Conference on Postgraduate Research for Sustainable Development 18, published some work from my MSc research. I have been moved by the dire need to manage this scarce precious resource – water, rather than only exploiting and mining it unsustainably. Furthermore, climate change and human demands in this semi-arid region poses a huge threat to fragile water resources. IWRM embraces inter/multi/trans – disciplinary research approach in addressing specific water needs such as groundwater management and its sustainability for the future.


  1. Tell us about your specific research area/interests.
  1. My research goals in the IWRM program are in Hydrology and Hydrogeology research intervention areas particularly integrated surface water and groundwater interactions/modelling. I embark on this academic journey to understand factors influencing behavior of wetlands over space and time. Applying spatial and other analytic techniques are of particular interest as it has been observed that water resources are being used unsustainably, thereby compromising ecosystem integrity of wetlands systems.
  1. What do you see as some of the greatest challenges being experienced in the IWRM sector, particularly in your home country?
  1. The challenge is mainly lack of coherent data that makes it difficult to predict and forecast water availability and its sustainability amid climate change. Data scarcity hinders reliability of models and data processing which is a major concern for reproducibility which is barely achieved in the geosciences. This challenge is also marred by limited professionals capacitated with water resource management skills. Inherent problems like lack of fresh water supply and limited climate change knowledge shadows the Southern Africa region. In Botswana, the water stress is exacerbated by erratic and low rainfall, pollution, and contamination of groundwater resources. The work done to mitigate these challenges are mainly limited to engineering solutions to supply fresh and portable drinking water to communities which does not address the climate change phenomenon, the much-needed intervention which can be employed by policy makers who can then inform decisions for implementing recommendations reliably from systematic and consistent research outputs.


  1. When it is all done and dusted, what would you like the impact of your research project to be?
  1. When all is done, I will be equipped with skill sets which are transferable in most environmental problems of groundwater and water resources management. These problems affect not only my country but the whole region at large due to transboundary aquifers that needs collective management irrespective of political boundaries. My research is aimed at investigating surface water and groundwater storage exchange dynamics on the sensitive and fragile deltaic environment of the iconic Okavango delta. The research would generate some insights in understanding wetland dynamics within the context of ecosystem sustainability and improved livelihoods of communities and tourism activities in similar environments. My research focus draws aspiration from the foundations of SASSCAL aimed at having a positive impact to challenges of global change.


The objective of the SGSP – IWRM is the development and deployment of an innovative and excellent regional collaborative education and research programme at PhD degree level complemented by selected tailor-made short courses for decision makers and industry, as well as a curriculum for a new regional PhD qualification in IWRM.