UK (University of Essex) New project to monitor river health in developing countries

A new project involving the University of Essex which will monitor river health in developing countries has secured funding from the Academy of Medical Sciences Global Challenges Research Fund.

Led by Dr Martin Wilkes, from our School of Life Sciences, and Dr James Jumbe, from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, the MARRK Project (Mapping Aquatic Resources and Risks in Kenya’s largest river basin) will form a new network of researchers, practitioners and stakeholders in the UK, Kenya, Colombia and Indonesia focused on monitoring river health.

Dr Wilkes explained: “Worldwide, river health is under threat due to urbanisation, industrial pollution, damming and climate change. Along with new international collaborators involved in this networking project, Professor Alex Dumbrell and I hope to build capacity for effective monitoring and management of freshwater systems in developing economies such as Kenya.”

Through a range of activities, the MARRK community of researchers will lay the foundations to transform the management of aquatic resources and risks in the Tana River Basin, Kenya’s largest and economically most important river basin.

The initial phase of the project will involve collecting pilot data in Kenya, staff exchanges between partner institutions and planning future collaborative research projects. In the long-term, the network hopes to establish a new, cost-efficient approach to monitoring river health in developing economies, as well as the infrastructure necessary for enabling its implementation by national authorities.

The Academy of Medical Sciences Global Challenges Research Fund is a five-year £1.5 billion fund supporting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research. It aims to address global issues through challenge-led research and strengthen research capacity both in the UK and in developing countries.