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News Articles from The Secretary Bird!

Secretary Bird 2007 – Last Quarter

Missions “I’m late, I’m late…for a very important date!” The last quarter was filled with goals to be achieved. The Project Hydrologist accompanied and aided by PRC members, attended to Phase I rehabilitation in Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and another swing through Zimbabwe. Speaking of Zimbabwe, our own resident Zimbabwean, our Hydrologist, managed to escape very narrowly from the local constabulary as he set out on one of the aforementioned missions. Various factors contributed to a rather chaotic departure, which resulted in the Hydrologist forgetting to take his international driver’s license with him – oh he would be fine on his mission, as he had his home country tag with him but the sticky beak officer who stopped him en route out of SA was not to be so easily convinced that all was as it seemed. Who knows how the Hydrologist convinced the officer to telephone the PMU but with arrest apparent, somehow, he did. The PMU managed to assure the officer that the Hydrologist was not a highway pirate with fuel stocks for sale across the border but rather a simple scientist battling the monkeys who kept throwing stones at his solar panels! Not sure the officer believed this either but the Hydrologist was left to be on his way – Phew!

Pongolapoort Acoustic Doppler Regatta 2007

“Every year, around October, some flood releases are done from the Pongolapoort Dam near Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal. Although the releases are stepped according to a pre-determined pattern, the peak release is usually around 800 cubic meters per second.” Pongolapoort Regatta Information. Sho sho sho!! That’s a lot of water and the Hydrologist was invited to attend this spectacularly interesting event (would somebody let the organisers for 2008 know the PMU has four members …nudge, wink). Apparently it is well planned and the hands-on experience with Acoustic Doppler technology was great. Well, the Hydrologist has his work cut out for him – he’ll have to share with the Region what he has learned.

SADC-HYCOS Developing Models

They involve figures alright but not the curvy sort. The Project Manager presented a paper on SPLASH modelling (not swimsuits either!) at the Waternet Symposium in Lusaka in October. A programme reshuffle meant that the audience compilation for the session was rather at odds with the subject matter, however, much interest was sparked afterwards.

4th Project Steering Committee Meeting

                        PSC Meeting Swakopmund

This took place in beautiful Namibia – the Secretary Bird can recommend this as a trip for bird watchers! Members found themselves halfway between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay on a not-so-small beach called Longbeach. The desert landscape is puzzlingly beautiful and the ocean can only be described as medicine for the soul. Namibian hospitality may be a hard act to follow. A fascinating field trip was arranged, with members being transported through the desert, up the Cuiseb river bed to a HYCOS station, down river to a river flow weir and finally to the Goabeb Research Station. The meeting was a success but the message was clear – 2008 is make or break!


TIGER Training

The Hydrologist was off again at the end of November, this time to Nairobi. Not to see wild cats but to learn more about the wild card of using Earth Observation technology to support water resources management. The European Space Agency in collaboration with TIGER Capacity Building facility and the African Water Facility organised an advanced training course on the applications of Earth Observation in water resources management. It also provided a platform for sharing knowledge and experience amongst the various WHYCOS project members who were also invited. So, we’ll see what stripes the Hydrologist earned when he takes to the training ground in early 2008.

And so the calendar year of 2007 may be drawing to a close but the hydrological year is about to peak…and so we await the rain.

                                                                                                   Whether the weather be hot,
                                                                                                  or whether the weather be not,
                                                                                                      'll weather the weather,
                                                                                                       whatever the weather,
                                                                                                      whether we like it or not!