[Pretoria, South Africa | 29 January 2024] – The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Henry Roman as IWMI’s Regional Representative for Southern Africa – and Country Representative for South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Dr Roman, a distinguished Circular Economy and Water Innovation Expert, brings over twenty years’ worth of invaluable experience to these crucial roles.
In his capacity as the Regional Representative for Southern Africa, Dr Roman will lead IWMI’s initiatives in the region, focusing on innovative water management strategies, sustainable development, and the enhancement of agricultural productivity. As the Southern Africa Regional Representative, he will play a pivotal role in coordinating regional efforts to address pressing water challenges, ensuring the effective implementation of IWMI’s mission across borders.
Dr Henry Roman’s extensive background in circular economy practices and water innovation management positions him as a thought leader in the field. His wealth of experience will undoubtedly contribute to IWMI’s commitment to advancing water security, resilience, and sustainability in the region. He has a PhD in Biotechnology and an MSc in Biochemistry backed with extensive industry experience in the public sector, private sector and NGO spaces.
Circular Economy: Raising the battle cry for transformative water futures
“Circular Economy is not just a concept but a lifeline for Southern Africa, where the pressing need for responsible resource management has never been more critical. With over 300 million people facing water scarcity by 2030 in the region, according to the United Nations, embracing Circular Economy principles is not just a choice – it’s an urgent necessity for ensuring the survival and prosperity of our communities. By embracing circular principles in water management, removing inefficiencies, designing out waste and implementing the 9Rs we can transform our water management systems, safeguarding our most precious resource and creating a sustainable future for Southern Africa,” says Dr Roman, whose strategic plight will reposition the region as a Circular Economy hub within the African continent.
Some of his flagship career milestones include, but are not limited to, initiating the development of the first Science, Technology and Innovation for Circular Economy Strategy for South Africa, birthing the Waste Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap, and the Water RDI Roadmap for South Africa. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Water Technologies Demonstration Platform (WADER) at the Water Research Commission (WRC) of South Africa.
It is also worth mentioning that he was a member of the National Steering Committees for green economy initiatives like PAGE and Switch Africa Green. He was part of the Advisory Committee for the review of the Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy for South Africa. Furthermore, he was a part of the organizing team who established the Young Water Professionals of Southern Africa (YWP SA) and a longtime partner of the Annual Green Youth Indaba, awarded for his relentless contribution for supporting the advancement of youth interest and green skills development in South Africa.
Answering the call for a transformative “health imperative” solution
“Aligning Southern Africa and Africa at large with circular economy principles, especially in the context of water management, is imperative for securing the continent’s sustainable future. The United Nations predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the global population could be living in water-stressed regions, with Sub-Saharan Africa being particularly vulnerable to water scarcity. In the face of such challenges, circular economy practices offer a transformative solution. With Africa accounting for a disproportionate share of the global water-related diseases burden, including over 80% of cholera deaths being in Africa compared to globally, the adoption of circular economy practices becomes a health imperative. By embracing circular economy principles, Africa can not only address water scarcity but also build resilience, protect ecosystems, and create a foundation for sustainable development,” elaborates Dr Roman.
Dr Roman is currently serving as a Trustee for the Sustainable Seas Trust which strives to reduce and remove plastic in the ocean. He is also a Board Member of the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University, a Member of the Research Advisory Panel to the Water Center at CSIR, a Member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability at the University of South Africa (UNISA), and a Professional Associate of the Biotechnology Innovation Center at Rhodes University. He greatly values bridging the communication gaps between media and the ordinary gatekeepers so as to make sure silos are broken and the information reaches its intended, target audiences.
More senior strategic appointments
Additionally, IWMI is pleased to announce the appointment of two Deputy Country Representatives who will work closely with Dr Roman in their respective capacities. Dr Greenwell Matchaya, a Senior Researcher, and Ms Nora Hauke-Louw who is a Project Coordinator, bring unique skills and perspectives to their roles as Deputy Country Representatives, further strengthening IWMI’s capabilities to address the multifaceted challenges of water management.
These strategic appointments underscore IWMI’s dedication to assembling a team of experts capable of driving positive change in water management practices. The combined leadership of Dr Roman, Dr Matchaya and Ms Hauke-Louw reflects IWMI’s commitment to pioneering sustainable solutions for water-related issues in Southern Africa.