Water is the foundation of life. For countries like India and Australia, water is a critical resource that if not managed correctly, could have catastrophic consequences for millions of people. From population pressure to climate change and water quality, the future of both nations is inextricably tied to water security.
In 2016, the International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICE WaRM) in South Australia collaborated with the Rajasthan Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (RaCE WaRM) to develop a fellowship program for highly qualified research students and engineers wanting to participate in research and advance their scientific knowledge to improve water access and security in the state of Rajasthan, India.
Thanks to generous funding from the Australia-India Council (AIC) grant program, five fellows travelled to Adelaide from Rajasthan in 2017 to continue their research and collaborate with experts from South Australian water utility, SA Water and with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
The visiting fellows included Bhavana Kanwar, a student at the Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Receiving the grant not only allowed Bhavana to broaden the scope of her initial project, but to take it in a whole new direction. She is now investigating ways to remove fluoride from water sources – a particularly relevant topic since many areas of Rajasthan rely on deep ground water that needs purifying. It's significant research that, if successful, could ensure water security for millions of people across the region.
Over the six-week program, all five AIC grant recipients participated in collaborative research, mentoring, work-shadowing, workshops and field trips.
"It was very informative and interesting for me!" says Bhavana, "and based on what I learned in Adelaide I have started applying a new technique with my work back in India."
Fortunately, the knowledge exchange between Aussie experts and India's superstar students is leading to some really exciting innovations. What's more, the fellowships are strengthening the ties between Australia and India.
"There is a sister-state relationship between Rajasthan and the state of South Australia," explains Joel Voortman of ICE WaRM. "This project has helped to strengthen that relationship and has been profiled quite heavily."
Joel credits the AIC Grant with fostering greater collaboration between water research centres in India and Australia, leading to directly relevant research.
"The grant allowed us to provide this great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences across both our countries. It was such a worthwhile experience for the five researchers and their counterparts here in South Australia."
Read the full interview with Bhavana and Joel from our 'Australia & India. A Dynamic Mix' series.
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