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Germaine Owen

I joined Future Water in February 2018 as a Post-Doctoral researcher. I have a background (First degree) in Geography and chose to study and pursue the route of Water Resources Management – because of my strong concerns in water scarcity and poor water quality. My Masters study exposed me to issues around water and society – with vested interest in issues around equity and social justice regarding participation in decision-making in access to water, within an integrated rainwater harvesting project. In the same vein, my PhD study sought to develop an approach of terms of engagement/participation in addressing negative public emotions and perceptions in reclaimed water for potable applications – where the mainstream ‘decide-announce-defend’ approach to decision-making is ‘replaced’ by meaningful information sharing and engagement between service providers and end users, to constitute what is meant to be a just society. Though I never studied Sociology, my MSc and PhD studies as well as working in other projects (e.g. Development of a gender sensitive framework for climate change with case study in Limpopo, Materialities and water access in South Africa and Ghana) have shaped my thinking in social sciences – and of which I am privileged to learn further from and with social scientists at Future Water.

I am currently engaged in two projects; 1) the SALGA project– where I contribute in unpacking people’s attitudes and adaptations to water scarcity, looking at disparities in water access, and proposing solutions forward; and 2) Liveable Neighbourhoods – where I contribute in also unpacking people’s attitudes to sensitive urban designs, exploring any challenges in adaptability and incorporating the ‘social indicators’ into decision-making tools for water sensitive neighbourhoods. These projects are ‘hands-on’ working in an interdisciplinary research way, which broadens my learning towards addressing issues in a holistic way, as we all work together. A crucial part in us working together involves exploring and learning how we go about our methodological approach to data collection; starting from the design to actual field study – and here, I was particularly involved in organising interview sessions for the Prince Albert Municipality study (SALGA).

“A pilot study exploring a novel approach to addressing negative public perceptions/emotions in reclaimed water: decision-making as processual and publicly engaged” is my project which stems from my PhD in which I will be engaging in. Not limited to reclaimed water only, this project will open up spaces for understanding and addressing people’s attitudes/perceptions on other water augmentation schemes like desalination, storm water harvesting etc.

Other engagement within Future Water is my lead in setting up the bi-weekly Future Water Student Presentations, and there is room for other involvement in building up the Future Water space.