Water research and collaboration in the Southern African Development Community

  • Anastassios Pouris Institute for Technological Innovation, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords: bibliometrics, SADC, collaboration, scientometrics, research, Web of Science


This article investigates water-related research in the Southern African Development Community. Water issues are part of the region’s science and technology priorities as 4countries receive less rain than the global average of 860 mm/yr – Botswana with 400 mm/yr, Namibia with 254 mm/yr, South Africa with 497 mm/yr and Zimbabwe with 652 mm/yr. Furthermore, the international literature indicates that joint or internationally coordinated research has the potential to improve the scientific–technical quality of international agreements, prevent conflict and shape the way for appropriate management of the shared resources. Scientometric analysis using the Web of Science database is employed in order to identify the state of water research and collaboration in the SADC region. The Web of Science indexes a defined set of journals worldwide and the South African Government provides incentives/subsidies for publications indexed by this database. The results show that South Africa is the main producer (80%) of research publications in the region. Similarly, in the field of water research South Africa produces 75% of the region’s research. The SADC collaboration matrix in water-related research reveals that there is minimal, if any, collaborative research on the topic. Some seed-level research exists between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The main funders of research are the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) (acknowledged in 180 publications), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (72 publications), the National Institutes of Health (64 publications) and the Wellcome Trust (60 publications). Policy implications are discussed (e.g. the establishment of SADC Common Water Research Area; research support for the region, etc.).


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Research paper