The Institute of Natural Resources (INR) recently appointed Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi as its new Director to herald a more ambitious role for the Pietermaritzburg-based research and development organisation.
Mabhaudhi brings an impressive track record and deep knowledge of the fluid interplay between water, energy, food and the environment globally and particularly in southern Africa – dynamics at the centre of his vision for the INR to play a leading role in the region. “The INR is ideally placed to help address the challenges of water management, sustainable and resilient food systems, and global environmental change,” he says.
With a passion for transdisciplinary research and capacity development, Mabhaudhi is looking forward to building on the INR’s legacy of bottom-up development. “We’ve identified the need to scale the INR’s reach to a more regional level and make it a partner of choice for organisations wanting to work in the region,” he says.
Mabhaudhi plays a leading role in global forums and networks, in particular, the Global WEF Nexus Community of Practice. His involvement in strategic regional and global initiatives on water resources management for sustainable and resilient food systems has honed some valuable insights, not least how to best align scientific principles with local knowledge and institutional perspectives. “Developing locally sustainable solutions to global challenges are deeply rewarding and the product of collaboration and cooperation,” he says.
Mabhaudhi’s diverse research credentials will stand the INR in good stead. He holds a BSc Honours Crop Science from the University of Zimbabwe, and an MSc and PhD in Crop Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), with a particular focus on agricultural water management.
During his tenure as a Research Professor and Co-Director for the Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems at UKZN, Mabhaudhi played a leading role in formulating policy to achieve on-the-ground change affecting vulnerable communities. “I’m a firm believer in credible research by qualified scientists which informs evidence-based policymaking and transforms society,” he said.
Mabhaudhi was named as one of UKZN’s Top 10 most published researchers under 40 years in 2022. He has authored more than 250 publications, supervised 12 MSc and 10 PhD students. Currently, he is overseeing eight post-doctoral fellows, six PhD candidates and seven MSc students.
Under Mabhaudhi’s leadership, the INR is poised to expand its sphere of recognised research in the interconnected domains of science, policy, practice and society. “The credentials of the organisation are well established. I believe the INR has a significant contribution to make in sustainability discourses and practice at local, national and regional levels,” he says.
As a natural integrator, Mabhaudhi is excited to position the INR for growth, internationalisation, collaboration and partnerships in the research and development community at large. His first priority is to create a facilitative platform for the INR researchers to do their jobs. “We’re building an enabling environment to support our scientists and partnerships which enhance the INR’s capacity to deliver on its vision. “It’s an exciting future beckoning.” he said.