A 26-year-old Malawian researcher, Sarah Chirwa, has taken center stage at the ongoing 7th International Conference of the Regional Centre for Mapping and Resources Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi.
Her innovative insights and dedicated research have the potential to offer solutions to Malawi’s persistent challenges with floods and climate change.
Malawi, a country susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change, has borne the brunt of devastating floods, including the March 2023 Tropical Cyclone that triggered floods and landslides.
Chirwa’s journey in developing her data-driven work was no easy feat.
“The process of gathering data was far from smooth; I encountered numerous challenges, from scarcity of data to limited resources to conduct the research,” explained Chirwa.
She noted that the scarcity often stemmed from reluctance among data holders to share vital information.
As both a Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst and researcher, Chirwa’s presentation focused on the repercussions of floods on irrigation infrastructure in Chikwawa District.
Her analysis delved into the impact of floods, which have led to the displacement of numerous individuals in the southern parts of Malawi.
Chirwa emphasized the potential for collaboration between policymakers and scientists to formulate effective solutions for Chikwawa District.
Reflecting on her experience, Chirwa expressed enthusiasm about presenting before esteemed academics and researchers.
“Interacting with renowned professionals, including professors and scientists, has been a rewarding experience,” Chirwa shared.
Chirwa’s insights were shared during the sideline events of the three-day international conference, hosted by the Regional Centre for Mapping and Resources Development (RCMRD).
The conference, themed ‘NEXT LEVEL: Space to Community,’ convened over 1,000 delegates from RCMRD’s 20 member countries. The event aimed to demonstrate how geoscience can effectively inform policy decisions and foster sustainable development.
Chirwa found the research field captivating, citing how it expands one’s knowledge and refines research outcomes.
“Continuous learning is crucial, as it prevents one from growing complacent with existing knowledge. Such gatherings inspire continuous exploration and discovery,” Chirwa emphasized.
Edmond Githoro, a researcher at the University of Nairobi, urged young researchers to collaborate with experienced counterparts to capitalize on both technological advancements and historical insights.
“Young researchers bring fresh perspectives and tech-savviness. By teaming up with seasoned professionals, they can amplify their impact,” Githoro stated.