2023 award

A. Owusu

The 2023 Falkenmark award goes to Afua Owusu (Ghana)

Citation for Dr. Afua Owusu, receiving the first Falkenmark Award for best Doctoral Theses 2022 from Berit Arheimer

“The Practice and Opportunities in Re-operating Dams for the Environment”
Resulting in a Doctoral Degree provided by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands
Supervisors and Promotors were: Prof.dr. J.H. Slinger, Prof.dr.ir. P. van der Zaag, and co-promotor Dr.ir. M. Mul

The PhD focusses on the success and failures to implement dam reoperations for environmental flows. Dr. Afua Owusu first provides a comprehensive overview on the topic through a systematic literature review, to identify key factors important for successful dam reoperation. As in most cases only the success was reported, but through an online survey more information on stalled cases was obtained.

The research was further applied to 2 dams in Ghana with detailed field investigations, which assigned the Volta clam as an indicator for environmental flows and new regulation routines was elaborated in collaboration with colleagues from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Finally, Dr. Afua Owusu developed an Evolutionary Multi-Objective Direct Policy Search to identify the multi-sectorial trade-offs that exist in the Lower Volta River Basin. Her research results were not only published in high impact journals, she also developed guidelines on dam reoperation. In her work, Afua shows she has both the breath, covering various research fields and depth required to tackle an interdisciplinary topic like environmental flow implementation. After her PhD she returned to Ghana and is now working in Accra for the International Water Management Institute.

Response from Afua Owusu

Thank you for your kind words and for presenting me with this inaugural Falkenmark award. I am sure many of you will agree that the PhD journey is a special one. There are moments of great inspiration and clarity and then there is the other 90% of the time when you feel like a confused tourist who accidentally wandered into the university library. 

And so, I am grateful to my supervisors, Dr Marloes Mul, Prof. Pieter van der Zaag and Prof. Jill Slinger, whose expertise and guidance helped me in my journey. I would also like to thank my family and friends- I wouldn’t be here without your encouragement and prayers.

I would like to thank the IAHS; this award is an incredible honour and I am aware of the responsibility that comes with such recognition. Therefore, taking inspiration from Malin Falkenmark herself, I hope to positively contribute to the field of hydrology, in pursuit of sustainable water resources for people and the environment. Thank you.

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