Africa suffers from “economic water scarcity” – the inability to properly manage, use and protect water resources for socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability. This has negatively influenced the quality of water around Africa especially the West Africa sub-region, rivers and ground water, which serve as major sources of domestic water in the region. These water sources are consistently polluted resulting in water-borne illnesses like typhoid, cholera and dysentery leading to high mortality and morbidity especially among children under the age of 5 years. More challenging is the increasing presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) in our water bodies and environmental organisms.
The CECs are known to cause cancer, hormonal imbalance, mutation and drug resistance in humans. Available water treatment plants in the sub-region are not designed to remove such CECs from water due to high cost of known relevant technologies. These issues are further exacerbated by inadequate trained personnel to handle current water quality issues. Moreover, Africa is yet to have a reliable database on the presence of CECs and other contaminants of interest in its water bodies and environment. This is making it very difficult for relevant organizations to track the progress the continent has made in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG-6). These all contribute to poor health, low productivity of the workforce and depressed growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as slow development in the sub-region.
In view of the aforementioned challenges there is an urgent need to develop affordable technologies for water monitoring and treatment and to train adequate personnel in the area of water quality management in West Africa. Hence, the establishment of an African Centre of Excellence for Water and Environmental Research (ACEWATER) at Redeemer’s University (RUN), Nigeria.
To be the foremost regional institution for capacity development in Water and Environmental Research for societal benefit.
To develop the next-generation water and environment experts that will adequately respond to the water quality challenges in the sub-region, positively influencing the nexus between academia-industry-government for socioeconomic development of the African Continent.
The overarching goals of the ACEWATER project will be to:
(1) Train the next-generation water quality and environmental management experts through specialized postgraduate programmes and short-term professional courses;
(2) Safeguard the water environment and secure freshwater bodies with healthy ecological status in the sub-region through integrative, innovative and sustainable approaches;
(3) Develop a sub-regional network database for water quality and management necessary for policy making and implementation, SDG-6 progress monitoring and further research useful for the development of the sub-region;
(4) Develop People-to-people (P2P) tools/activities that employs reflexive public diplomacy and collaborative networking that will create direct linkages among the scientific community/society/industries and other target groups in order to promote common understanding, sharing know-how and developing new solutions to address the mutual water-related problems in the sub-region;
(5) Create opportunities to attract and retain scientific talents with expertise in the specific thematic areas in ACEWATER. This will further help in reversing the brain drain especially from Nigeria and the sub-region to European countries and the Americas.
ACEWATER intends to achieve her mission through: Collaboration; Education; Research; and Public engagement.