JOHOR BAHRU – It was the time of the year for researchers to meet again! This time around, the second Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub Assembly was organised from 24th until 28th February 2020 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Researchers, along with postdoctorate researchers and postgraduate students from various countries such as India, Colombia, Ethiopia, United Kingdom, and Malaysia had come together to attend this year’s Hub Assembly. Among the participants were Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) team.

Various activities like collaboratory meetings, committee meetings, breakout discussions, field trip, formal and informal dinner, Early Career Researchers (ECR) Showcase and etc. were arranged to ensure all participants had a good opportunity and platform to sharpen and improve their social and professional skills. Besides that, there were also pre- and post-assembly workshops organised for the participants during the time.

The Hub Assembly kicked start with the pre-assembly workshop titled “Sanitation Thematic Workshop”. It was organised on 22nd and 23rd February 2020 at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ethiopia. Then, the Hub Assembly officially started with welcoming speech by Prof. Dr. Richard Dawson, Hub Director of GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub, followed by Prof. Dr. Gete Zeleke, Director of Water and Land Resource Centre (WRLC).

Throughout the first day, a few sharing sessions were conducted about Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL), Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Transparency (EDIT), Topic Overview, ECR Showcase, and Instructions on Field Trip.

The next day (25th February 2020), a field trip was organised where the participants were divided into two groups. The first group went to Legedadi Water Treatment Plant located at the east of Addis Ababa while the second group went to Kaliti Wastewater Treatment Plant located at the south of Addis Ababa.

Both groups met at the Gullele Botanical Garden for lunch and continued exploring the beautiful garden. After that, they went to Entoto Mountain to enjoy the panoramic view of Addis Ababa. The participants had the opportunity to visit Church of St. Mary that was built in 1885 and also an old palace of Emperor Menelik II that was built in 1881 during their final destinations.

For the next two days (26th and 27th February 2020), all participants were segregated into respective breakout groups, which were attended by at least one representative from each collaboratory. There were eight breakout groups in total established throughout the first day, which were Review of Data Collection Exercise, Values – Literature Review Discussion, Review of Institutional Mapping and Analysis, Health Survey Review and Multiple Health Indicator Study, Qualitative and Participatory Methodologies, Costing of Data Gathering Strategies, Resource Recovery, and Water-Centric Planning.

Meanwhile, there were another eleven breakout groups established on the next day, which were Systems Approach to Water Security, Use of Citizen Science, WS4 – Next Steps, IIT Campus Game, WASH Questionnaire and Survey Design, Johor River Basin Game, Education Programmes, Use of Global Datasets, WS5 – Next Steps, Water Quality Observation Networks and Modelling, and Development and Supporting Application of Data and Scenarios of Change.

On the last day (28th February 2020), the overview of the Security Hub in terms of research programme structure, impact and communications, learning, management, and actions were briefed and shared. Prof Dr. Richard Dawson, the Hub Director gave his closing remarks and the Hub Assembly February 2020 was officially closed. However, the activities continued on the next day. A post-assembly workshop titled Gender Workshop was organised at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) by the Ethiopia Collaboratory. It was a one-day workshop involving a field trip in the morning and a discussion among the participants in the afternoon.

To sum up the entire experience, UTM team (Prof. Dr. Azmi Aris, Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Yusop, Prof. Dr. Zainura Zainon Noor, Associate Professor Dr. Choong Weng Wai, Dr. Nor Eliza Alias, Dr. Salmiati, Mrs. Juhaizah Talib@Harun, Dr. Che Hafizan Che Hassan, Dr. Cindy Lee Ik Sing, Dr. Neo Sau Mei, Dr. Nor Zaiha Arman, Dr. Zulfaqar Sa’adi, and Ms. Ainul Syarmimi Rosli) had a great time in Addis Ababa and it was their first time visited the beautiful city.

The team returned to Malaysia with great inputs to bring Malaysia Collaboratory towards a better direction in establishing water governance solutions that would enable Integrated River Basin Management for the Johor River Basin.

 

Presentation on the outcomes of discussion during the Sanitation Thematic Workshop

 

Discussion among the Malaysia Collaboratory team

 

Discussion on the costing of data collection among researchers from various Collaboratories

 

Interview session with one of the local farmer groups under the Multi-Purpose Urban Garden Project

 

Group Photo of UTM Team at the Hub Assembly