Dr Brighton Chunga

Dr Brighton Chunga

Malawi

Mzuzu University

Water and Sanitation

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Work and Research

My research focuses on the environment and climate change, system dynamic modelling, hydrogeology and groundwater development, irrigation engineering, catchment hydrology, GIS and Geoinformatics, hydrological modelling, water reticulation systems, water resources management and water allocation in the face of climate change

Fields Of Expertise

Environmental Sciences
Agriculture

RIVER CATCHMENT RESTORATION IN MALAWI

Malawi’s water is under severe pressure from all sides: the country supports an agri-based economy, increasing industrialization and hydroelectric power generation for its’ electrical needs – all whilst facing environmental degradation such as deforestation and the resulting climate change. High population growth numbers have resulted in increased water demand for domestic and municipal use, irrigation, tourism, mining, manufacturing and water transportation.

 

While the country has made tremendous efforts in the conservation, allocation, and utilization of water resources in the face of these threats, challenges are intensifying.

 

Dr Brighton Chunga’s FAR-LeaF project – Determination of river basin closure and catchment restoration in Malawi – is proposing the unique idea of futuristic thinking by holistically predicting the basin closure of key catchment areas.

 

By predicting when a catchment will no longer be able to supply water to meet social and environmental needs, the project will produce evidence on which the catchment restoration and protection actions will be based. Currently, such actions are implemented with very little scientific evidence – and provide mostly short-term answers to real water supply problems for both human consumption and ecosystem support.

 

After careful assessments of the catchments and analyzing the river basin closures, catchments will be classified as either closed, nearing closure, or open – and resources allocated accordingly.

The object of the exercise is to simulate and predict river basin closure of hot-spot catchments and devise restoration programs to ensure water security for social and economic development.

 

For this purpose, we will assess upstream and downstream movements within catchments that lead to conflicts in water demand. We will develop and perform computerized hydrological models to simulate the characteristics of the river basins. This will enable us to run system dynamics simulations to understand future scenarios of water resources in the targeted river basins.

 

We will quantify both surface and groundwater resources in selected catchments and river basins for appropriate water allocation by the National Water Resources Authority; implement activities aiming at restoring degraded catchments – and protect those catchments under threat; including training of farmers and communities surrounding the targeted catchments regarding different entrepreneurial skills to empower them in other or future income-generating businesses.

 

The research will employ a mixed-method research design including hydrological modelling exercises, computing abstractions by users in particular catchments, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.

 

Dr Chunga is an Irrigation and Water Resources Management professional with more years of hands-on practical experience before joining academics. He has worked with Illovo Sugar Malawi, International Water Management Institute, GFA Consulting GmbH, and the National Water Resources Authority (formerly Water Resources Board in the Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Water and Sanitation). His earlier work and experience with various organisations have inspired his current research interests. He loves to combine his skills and aims at improving irrigation water management. While working with Illovo Sugar Company at Dwangwa Estate in Nkhotakota, Malawi, Dr Chunga carried out several irrigated-related projects. One of the outcomes of the project was the reduction of irrigation water loss, which drastically reduced company production losses in terms of energy for pumping water and then wages for labourers.

 

While working with the International Water Management Institute he developed a system-dynamic-based water allocation model and has since also dabbled in the field of water rights and -allocation. Dr Chunga is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Stellenbosh University and a lecturer at Mzuzu University’s department of Water and Sanitation in the faculty of Environmental Sciences.