New appointment boosts water research at UFS - South Africa

Prof. Ashok Chapagain has recently been appointed as senior professor in the department of agricultural economics in the faculty of natural and agricultural sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Water hub key in collaboration with research institutes

According to Prof. Chapagain, the position provides a unique opportunity to help establish the university at the forefront of water research in South Africa. He is looking forward to cross-departmental collaboration on innovative research projects working with key water-related sectors such as agriculture, business, mining etc., and establishing a water hub that would be key in external collaborations with other research institutes in South Africa and beyond.

Prior to his formal appointment at the UFS, Prof. Chapagain has been remotely involved with the department of agricultural economics since 2017 through his support to a number of research projects funded by the Water Research Commission (WRC).

He is experienced in managing and coordinating international and interdisciplinary projects, ensuring technical quality and project delivery. He has vast cultural and geographical work experience, and specific water-related experience in the fields of integrated water resource management, water footprint assessment, industrial and agricultural efficiency and sustainability, irrigation, hydrology and watershed modelling, flood-risk management, river-basin planning and management, and environmental impact assessment. He has recently left the Water Footprint Network (WFN) (The Netherlands), where he worked in the capacity of science director. Prior to joining the WFN, Prof. Chapagain worked as senior water adviser at WWF-UK for about six years.

Systems approach to address water issues

Prof. Chapagain holds a PhD in the field of water resources management and policy analysis from Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), an MSc degree in water and environmental resources management from UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education (The Netherlands), and a bachelors degree in civil engineering from IIT Roorkee (India). His professional career of 28 years can be broadly grouped under two inter-related blocks: Development projects for ten years as an irrigation engineer in Nepal; research and application for 18 years comprising academia for eight years and applied work for ten years in the Netherlands and UK. During his MSc and PhD research, he specialised in water resources and environmental management, integrated river-basin management, policy analysis, and systems analysis.

He regularly reviews articles for several scientific journals. Currently he serves as the editor-in-chief for the recently launched open access scientific journal H2Open, published by IWA Publishing. In addition, he serves as editor for five scientific journals, and frequently guest edits specific issues for peer-reviewed scientific journals. He has published four books, and 64 other articles and reports including 25 scientific journal articles, 40 papers in conference proceedings, book chapters, and technical reports. His publications are widely cited, with 10 436 citations, and has an h-index of 34 and i10-index of 44. He applies a system approach in addressing issues on water, energy, and food securities, where managing local resources also includes global dimensions where key stakeholders are often cross-sectoral and situated outside the boxes. He has been involved in many national and international projects as a team leader, project leader, and international expert in several Asian, European and South American countries.

For more information on Prof. Chapagain and his role in the Department of Agricultural Economics, please contact Prof. Chapagain at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Dr. Frikkie Maré at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +27 51 401 2824. – Press release

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