North-West University: Water management in the spotlight during launch of NWU Internationalisation Africa outreach programme

On 11 August 2022, the North-West University (NWU) Business School launched its Internationalisation Africa Outreach programme in Botswana with the theme “Water is life: sustainable water management in Southern Africa”.

The launch was attended by NWU Business School alumnus, Minister of Land and Water Affairs in Botswana, Dr Kefentse Mzwinila, and the NWU principal and vice-chancellor, Dr Bismark Tyobeka.

Prof Lobina Palamuleni from the NWU’s School of Geo and Spatial Sciences and also an alumnus of the NWU Business School, was the keynote speaker. Her presentation was titled “A water management mindset: Are we water conscious in our businesses?”.

The presentation was based on her MBA mini dissertation which focused on the integration of water conservation mindsets (attitude, beliefs, intuition and values), which could set environmental sustainability norms and perceptions within the workplace among managers at the NWU’s Mahikeng Campus.

Having observed that working adults spend a lot of time at work, Prof Palamuleni says the study sought to explore the prevalence of water saving and water consumption practices.

“The Mahikeng Campus faces water challenges due to poor service delivery from the municipality, which are exacerbated by drought. Compounding the situation is the absence of an institutionalised water management and conservation policy to act as a legal binding document.”

Prof Palamuleni says conservation is a psychological construct that underpins one’s personal distinguishable attitudes, beliefs, and values. “The results of the study noted that water conservation at the workplace is hindered by low awareness and limited knowledge of water conservation.”

Her recommendations include strategies to trigger positive water conservation mindsets, such as creating awareness through education and training, as well as encouraging conversations about water issues.

“The campus should also consider promoting water conservation by installing water-efficient appliances.

Having an institutionalised water conservation policy will also contribute to creating a mindset that water scarcity is a legitimate social issue. Conservation requires not only technical intervention, but also behavioural change to ensure the sustainability of water resources,” concludes Prof Palamuleni.

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