Describe how your professional (and/or personal) experience relates to space technologies and their application on natural resource management.
Where does your interest in space come from?
At first it was a dream and later developed a passion on space science and technology. I have been interested in STEAM programs from a very young age. I used to be one of the best students in mathematics and science from primary to tertiary level. My first dream in space science and technology was inspired by a picture of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human to travel into space. This was when I was only 8 years old. “I used to look at the picture and vowed that, I too, will one day do the same”. Then later on, I wanted to be a pilot, at last studied Space Applications as well as Space and Atmospheric Science.
Did any event in particular event inspire you to work in this field?
My curiosity for space science was sparked by an interest in knowing more about unexplained mysteries of things happening in space, such as the cause of some plane crashes. When studying a Post Graduate Diploma in Space and Atmospheric Science, I carried a research on the Impact of Geomagnetic Storm (Space Weather) on Satellite Electronic devices and Navigation Systems. The research aimed at finding out why Satellites crash or disappear in Space with an unknown failure.
What makes you most excited about using space technologies to the benefits of water research and management?
When using space technologies for the benefit of water resources and their management, what you get is;
- Real time, quality and accurate information;
- Quick response to address challenges such as flash floods, surface water volumes (sea level rise or decrease of dams).
- Earth observation data cover larger areas and thus, can monitor and manage water resources in a large area;
- Maps of trans-boundaries water resources like rivers, lakes, oceans etc.;
- Satellite data and other Earth observation data like the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, can be used to measure the volume of water;
- Easy detection of what is happening, where and why. Examples are water scarcity, floods etc.;
- Monitor and manage water resources easily;
- Data and information is updated regularly;
- End users and the decision makers can get answers fast.
Could you tell us about your current work, your latest project or your proudest professional moment?
I am an Endowed Chair for Educational Technologies at Africa University in Zimbabwe. I was appointed in this position on the 16 March 2020. I have proposed a project on to establish a Space Science lab at the university to train and carryout research on spatial phenomenon. Currently we are in the process of buying equipment such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones), as well as positioning and navigation instruments to be used to capture very high resolution data to manage resources including water resources in the country.
I have also proposed an undergraduate degree program on space applications to commence based on approval by the board.
In addition, I have been approved by UNOOSA as one of the UNOOSA Space for Women Network Mentors volunteers to mentor women and girls globally on April 2020.
Currently I am at the initial stage of starting a space for women and girls network named Space4Women_AfricaDreamers for space awareness. Space4Women_AfricaDreamers is a proposed network for women and girls who are interested in the space sector in Zimbabwe and other countries. The objectives of the network are to create awareness, role models and mentors to inspire, guide, encourage, and support and mentor women and girls from Zimbabwe and the Regional to contribute to the space sector as well as to consider and engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education. Space4Women_AfricaDreamers network will also act as a catalyst network platform to bring more women and girls in the space sector. This network will also be a valuable tool for engaging professionals within the country to raise awareness on the importance of STEAM education and the opportunities in the space field.
Zimbabwe, like other countries, needs to use space science and technology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This network will create more opportunities to teach and share experiences to empower women and girls on the skill to pursue space programs to solve challenges.
What do you need to innovate? What conditions enable you to make a difference with the work you do?
I need educational resources such as equipment, instruments to train and carry out research. I need mentors to guide me where there are some gaps of skills and knowledge. Furthermore, I need funding for seminars and for outreach purposes.
What do you think is poorly understood or unresolved within the area of sustainable water management? Why is this so? How do you believe space technologies add value?
The challenge is lack of knowledge about water resources management tools for sustainable water management. Also lack of awareness on the use of water management tools, and existing case studies based on space technologies and other tools such as Geographical Information Systems.
Water resources management is poorly understood because there is lack of case studies to raise awareness. Moreover, decision makers lack knowledge on the subject matter. This needs to change, because they are accepting proposals of such projects, and thus, need to be informed with up-to date information and knowledge. Another aspect to this is that experts move from country to country or region to region looking for areas or institutions they can apply their skills better. People with passion normally want to do what they are passionate of.
You have worked in the field of satellite topographic mapping. Please elaborate a bit on its fields of application and its potential and limitations.
Satellite topographic mapping is used for mapping, monitoring and managing the Earth and Environmental resources. You can get products such as land cover and the earth environmental areas and maps for other areas of interests such as soil and soil moisture, water bodies, Digital Elevation (slope), geological structures etc. for sustainable development.
Potential limitations to satellite topographic mapping can be seen in low resolution, both spatial and temporal, Low to very low. Low spatial resolution data make it difficult to monitor and map small water bodies, and to assess the quality of water. Low spatial resolution works slightly better for large water bodies. Low to very low temporal resolution data is caused by not frequent enough collection times. Limited collection periods can also pose problems for analysis. These make it difficult to monitor water resources as frequently as needed. Water management benefits from real time monitoring and information.
Considering your extensive experience in Earth Observations, you are likely familiar with the need of in-situ data to relate space-based observations with ground truth. How easy is it to get in-situ data in countries in the South of Africa? What are the challenges, which parameters of water-related data are missing? Are you aware of any relevant open data projects in the region?
To get an in-situ data is a challenge, because it takes a lot of time surveying and collecting the data, as well as for ground truthing. Manual data collection sometimes is not accurate, the data can mislead if a person collecting the data does not have experience, sometimes mistakes happen as well.
Can you share some of your experiences in fostering STEAM (especially space technologies and water related education) in Zimbabwe? How well are girls represented in related fields? Where do you see challenges? What are the experiences let you know you are on the right path?
As mentioned above, I am currently at the initial stage of the space for women and girls network named Space4Women_AfricaDreamers for space awareness.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries that support gender equality. The Space4Women_ AfricaDreamers network will also be used to promote gender equality and gender empowerment in the space and STEAM sector. The network will be open to everyone with interest in space and willingness to support women and girls in space education and careers within the country and abroad.
The proposed Space4Women_AfricaDreamers network will start to operate at Africa University. The University has good learning, training, educational platforms as well as tools of the 21St century. Africa University has female students from more than 36 African countries. The University will be used as the centre of the network. “A group of more than ten students has already shown interest and we have started to mentor the students on different areas of interest, to introduce them to the space sector.
The challenge faced now is COVID-19, which makes it more difficult to do outreach.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Space science and technology can be a sustainable tool used monitor and manage water resources.
What is your favourite aggregate state of water?