Dr Emmanuel VELLEMU (Malawi)

Emmanuel is water resource scientist. He applies the ecosystem services approach to balance resource protection and river use in his home country Malawi. Based on his bio-physical research in ecotoxicology he develops guidelines for water quality in Malawi’s rivers taking into account the context of climate change.

PhD in Water Resources Science

Current position: Lecturer, Malawi University of Science and Technology, Malawi

Research focus: ecosystem services

Emmanuel’s research is related to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and 14 (Life Below Water) to support efforts for clean water and sanitation and to ensure that aquatic organisms are protected. His field of expertise is water resource science. He does bio-physical research in experimental ecotoxicology. His work is focused on stressor response particularly regarding acid mine drainage, sediments, industrial effluent, salt as toxicants, and salinisation as a stressor exacerbated by climate change and anthropogenic activities.

Ecosystem services are at the centre of Emmanuel’s study. He aims to learn about the whole range of benefits that humans derive from nature and to understand how aquatic stressors influence human well-being. His research is transdisciplinary; he works with experts from different backgrounds such as anthropology and sociology and with GIS and IT experts.

Emmanuel is open to new ways of gathering data for his research. He uses various elements of citizen science and also drone technology in areas that are hard to reach in order to collect water samples and to map out ecosystems.

Emmanuel is working towards the development of water quality guidelines for Malawi to contribute to the SDGs in question. He has applied the use of riverine test organisms, dechlorinated water as test system, and both short- and long-term exposures in the development of water quality guidelines. His research contributes to on-the-ground improvements in environmental health.

He follows the concept of ‘balancing resource protection and use’. Currently, his major research focus is centred at unlocking the diminishing impacts of anthropogenic activities (mainly sand mining) on ecosystem services.

The jury appreciated Emmanuel’s technically very interesting and methodically challenging approach to the research subject. The interlinking of social aspects and the involvement of local groups and inhabitants in ecological and systemic issues is considered exemplary.

Take a look at this video that briefly introduces Emmanuel and his research: