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University of Bath

Support for the National Flood Studies Programme through Development of Research Capacity & Training

This project aims to strengthen capacity and develop capabilities within South Africa to undertake research into flood hydrology.

The aim of this project is to strengthen capacity and develop capabilities within South Africa to undertake research into flood hydrology through the National Flood Studies Programme (NFSP) and collaboration with expertise within the University of Bath. This is achieved through support and joint supervision of post-graduate students in South Africa (University of Pretoria and University of KwaZulu-Natal), organisation of workshops in South Africa focussing on flood hydrology (January 2018 and 2019), and financially supporting Professor Jeff Smithers (University of KwaZulu-Natal) during his 8 months visit to University of Bath (2017).

This project is part of RAEng funded Industry Academia Partnership Programme.

Project outline

(i) Supported the initiation of the NFSP with two annual national planning and research review workshops attended by 63 delegates from industry and academia, and with input from international expertise (Dr Thomas Kjeldsen from the University of Bath). This resulted in annual reviews of progress with the implementation of the NFSP, and modifications to prioritised activities included in the NFSP. Students presented their research to industry and academics not involved in their supervision, and received valuable feedback.

(ii) Contributed to the development of research capacity in South Africa through collaborative research projects, a knowledge-sharing sabbatical leave visit in the UK, recruitment and supervision of 15 postgraduate students including eight with supervision from different institutions and four receiving financial support for their studies.


The impacts and outcomes of the project include the following:

(i) Support for the initiation of the NFSP in order to improve the assessment of flood risk:

  • Annual reviews on the status of the implementation of the NFSP with new and re-prioritised activities agreed to by delegates from industry, government and academia.

  • Annual presentations by students of their research activities to delegates from industry, government and academia with feedback and recommendations to the students on their research.

(ii) Development of research capacity in order to implement the NFSP:

  • Academic engagement, exchange, workshop and conference attendance.

  • Recruitment and supervision of 15 postgraduate students.

  • Joint supervision of students by academics from different institutions.

  • Financial support for students during their studies.

  • Student attendance at international and local workshops and conferences.

  • Graduation of PhD and MSc students working on projects related to the NFSP during the period of the project.

  • Publication of five papers in ISI-rated journals during the period of the project.

  • Collaboration between academics at different institutions in South Africa was broadened and strengthened, which supported the development of the critical mass required to implement the NFSP.

  • Strong and ongoing collaboration between the NFSP and Dr Kjeldsen from the University of Bath.

  • Award of travel grant by the British Council to a PhD student for a six week study visit to work with Dr Kjeldsen at the University of Bath (June 2019).

(iii) Capacity development in design flood estimation in South Africa in order to improve flood risk assessment in practice:

  • Knowledge and skill development of academics and students through exchanges, conference and workshop attendance.

  • Supervision and training of postgraduate students with skills require by industry.

  • Development of both practitioner and student knowledge and skills in design flood estimation by attendance at a three-day short course on flood estimation.

  • Improved practice by initiating discussion on guidelines for design flood estimation in South Africa.

The project has facilitated research collaboration between local institutions in South Africa and the University of Bath, and between the academics and industry represented in the NFSP (DWS, WRC, SANCOLD and SANRAL) in South Africa. This has focussed and ensured that the research undertaken is meeting industry needs. Practitioners in South Africa involved in design flood estimation have benefited from training and discussion of guidelines for flood estimation in practice. A follow-on project 2019-2021 has been funded by the RAEng under the same programme, extending the number of partners in South Africa, including Stellenbosch University.