Jonathan Kafausiyanji
PhD Student
Postgraduate Student
NUI Galway Energy Transition, Climate Action Energy Policy & Modelling

Overview

The Lake Malawi-Shire River (LM-SR) Hydrological System represents Malawi’s single most important natural resource system comprising of two inseparable subsystems, the Lake Malawi and the Shire River Watersheds. The system supports significant economic and social activities including generation of hydropower, agriculture, fisheries, transport, tourism and urban water supply. Reported major imminent problem in Malawi include the adverse effects rapid population growth and climate change will have on the country’s economic, social and environmental boxes.

Food security, water and sanitation, clean and affordable energy, and, management of risks due to climate change present complex but important elements of sustainable growth in Malawi that call for sustainable utilization of hydrological systems. Still yet, hydrologic engineering in Malawi is almost entirely based on historic hydrologic records where engineering hydrology decisions are based on critical period hydrology. The limitations in advanced investigations with predictive capability and modeled decision support, coupled with the increasing water demand for food and energy, and, the climate change present gaps and elements set to veto a number of national and international development strategies and protocols.

Hydro-energy, a major form of renewable energy accounts for only 2.8% of the total available energy. Malawi needed to increase annual electricity connections from 8,000 to 90,000 if the 2020 target of 30% connection was to be attained. This required an increase in generation from the 417 MW to 1,100 MW. The hydropower schemes in Malawi are all run-of-river and are greatly affected by any changes in river flows. The low availability of renewable (hydro) energy has led to excess use of biomass which provides 95% of the total energy and is feared to make substantial contribution to emission of greenhouse gases, agrichemical runoffs, soil erosion and excess sedimentation and eutrophication in water bodies.

The purpose of this research project is to design a dashboard for advanced analytics, modeling integration and management of the water resource in the LM – SR Hydrological System.  It brings in modern GIS and remote sensing tools and techniques to perform a comprehensive analysis of the different elements and processes in the system to define indicators of healthy aquatic ecosystems and characterize the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities on performance of the system. An integrated set of technologies and tools and, several data sets from multiple sources including GIS will be used in the analysis. These data sets will include climate, digital elevation models, land use maps, river flow, Lake Malawi water levels and hydropower production.

The overall objective is to contribute to national and global social, economic and environmental goals: healthy aquatic environments, reduction of carbon emission, affordable and clean energy and sustainable food production through a systematic analysis of the interactions between the natural resources and human activities in the system. The research will focus on optimizing the availability of water for hydropower generation (seeking solutions to adapt to impacts of climate change and improve production rates) and operation of irrigation intake at Kapichira in the context of uncertain climate variability over the next 50 years. It will have direct benefits on the environment (maintenance of adequate water flows and stability of flows to external pressures), economy (enhanced energy production, preparedness of relevant institutions to manage change, enhanced water allocation planning and subsequent improvements in water use efficiency) and society (more energy for much needed rural grid connection along the River Shire hinterland and assured water availability for food production). This project presents an alleyway to green growth and relates to two themes of MaREI: Energy Transition and Climate Action (RA6, RA7).  The activities of the project will seek to enhance the understanding of advances in hydrological analysis, enhance the ability to develop and apply interrelated hydro-informatics for planning, designing and managing water resource systems, enhance the understanding of human influence and climate change on hydrological system and enhance the ability to apply tools such as modeling for proper integration of hydrological knowledge and analysis for engineering. Specifically, the project aims to achieve the following three objectives:

  1. To illustrate a procedure for hydrological analysis and enhance the application of interrelated hydro-informatics for planning, designing and management of water resources. To achieve this, spatial analysis and watershed modeling, assessment of long-term changes in Lake water level (through use, climate change or other factors), reservoir bathymetry and analysis of PET will be performed using remote sensing and GIS tools. This shall create a data panel for area specific studies on hydrology in the system.
  2. To quantify future meteorological and hydrological variability in the LM-SR Hydrological System. Information from HadCM3 Global Climate Model (GCM) over the next 50 years under the four main families of emission scenarios will be used to quantify projected meteorological changes.
  3. To give hydrological analysis of possible options for optimizing water availability for hydropower generation along the Shire River and reservoir operation at Kapichira. GIS tools and HEC-RAS will be used to develop a 2D hydraulic model that will be used for the analysis. Projected hydrologic information will be used to assess future conditions.

 Current Activities

  1. Watershed modelling for the water districts. 15 Districts have been identified in the ML-SR Hydrological System. These include water resource areas in Mozambique and Tanzania
  2. Public engagement. Specifically the Energy Generating Company (EGENCO) is being engaged on long term plans on hydro-power generating infrastructure.
  3. Data collection. About 80% of the data collected from different sources. Some hydro data is yet to be collected from the department of water resources

 Background

I obtained M.Sc. in Water Resources Engineering from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2019, and, a B.Sc. in Irrigation Engineering from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi in 2007.

I have over 10 years of wide-ranging experience in agriculture, water and environment, working for government department and private consulting. I demonstrated brilliance in designing and management of highly monitored multi-million kwacha water and land development projects funded by various donors. I am skillful at bridging the gap between people, process and technology to advance efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery.

I have skills in hydrology, hydraulics, Irrigation and drainage systems, integrated water resources planning and management, environmental engineering, municipal water supply, regulatory compliance and environment control and engineering project management.

I am a Regular Member of the International Water Resources Association and a Graduate Member, Malawi Board of Engineers.