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JOHANNESBURG - Rhodes University along with its Director of the Institute for Water Research (IWR) will be hosting workshop where the IWR team will facilitate a process for residents of drought-stricken Makhanda to collaborate on how to overcome the water crisis currently facing the Eastern Cape town. 

IWR director Professor Tally Palmer said: "What I thought is that instead of talking about engaged research in a lecture, we should do an engaged research activity with the whole town about water, which is our most pressing issue.

"The acute anxiety and impatience around water has mainly produced anger, blame and divisions. If we share knowledge and perspectives, and appreciate the magnitude of our water challenge, we can transform destructive divisive blame into greater tolerance and committed, effective, collective action."

Stakeholders including Makana Municipality, Grahamstown Ratepayers’ Association, Makana Revive, Grahamstown Business Forum, local consulting engineers, the Department of Water and Sanitation, local farmers, the Unemployed Peoples Movement, and the Eastern Cape Water Caucus have been invited to be part of the engagement.

In recognition of her engaged research, Palmer received the 2018 Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Award for Community Engagement. 

"The process is based on an understanding that all the stakeholders involved want water to be reliable, clean and its distribution to be fair. Everyone at the workshop will have the chance to engage with each of these issues. We will learn new things, and share what we know, and we will be challenged to act – individually and collectively," said Palmer.

Palmer said that the fundamental purpose of the engagement is to start a shift from anger to action, using the power of knowing more about "our own water system and what we can do".

The workshop will take place at Makhanda City Hall on Thursday from 5pm to 7:30pm

African News Agency (ANA)