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Water stewardship and resilience in South African businesses

How do water shortages affect business? How are businesses coping with this challenge? What are some of the opportunities that can arise? MSc student Dyani Jeram seeks to answer these questions with her research.

Dyani Jeram

The dry season in 2015 served as a catalyst for MSc student Dyani Jeram to undertake her research entitled “Water stewardship and resilience in South African businesses: challenges and opportunities”. Her research interest specifically focuses on business and finding out if and how they adapt to water risk.

Thus far Dyani has made good strides in terms of research and is currently doing data analysis, and will be doing follow-up interviews with companies. “I have submitted my ethics application and awaiting approval to begin interviews. My data analysis thus far has yielded interesting results. I've found that over the past 10 years companies have realised the importance of integrating water risk into their business strategy as most companies have experienced detrimental impacts related to water,” says Dyani.

On the research approach she is taking, Dyani says, “My research involves more of a multi-disciplinary approach as I am incorporating science, business and social aspects. It was essential for me to use a multi-disciplinary approach as I am unable to look at any of these aspects in isolation. For example, businesses use water but due to the drought South Africa experienced, water supply decreased. In addition, how businesses use water affects society and vice versa, society plays a role in putting pressure on business water use.”

“I hope that my data can give good insight into the challenges and opportunities that different businesses in South Africa face. I hope to conclude if companies are resilient with regards to their climate change adaptation, water risk and governance and decision making. Lastly I hope that my data is able to assess if CDP reporting coupled with climate variability, has the ability to transform the way CEO's see their company's water related risks and opportunities. These conclusions and results can assist in future water reporting recommendations,” she adds.

Dyani, a GCI bursar, is supervised by Prof Coleen Vogel (GCI), who guided her through the proposal writing and planning phase of her research. In addition to providing research support, GCI looks to offer practical opportunities to postgrads - Dyani contributed to the City of Johannesburg Climate Change Adaptation Framework draft document project which is led by Coleen. “Contributing to the CoJ project has been an exciting experience. I was fortunate enough for my Honours project to be included. My project involved assessing urban farming in Johannesburg with the hope that similar activities could be carried out throughout the City to assist the economically marginalised not only by increasing access to food but providing the necessary skills for communities to provide safe and nutritious food for themselves,” Dyani explains.

“At GCI, I have the opportunity to work with top Professors in their respective fields and learn from their experience. I look forward to continuing my learning and utilising the teachings to make a positive societal impact with my research,” concludes Dyani.