Gordon O’Brien

Gordon O’Brien

Gordon O’Brien, South Africa

Dr. Gordon Craig O’Brien is the programme leader of the Aquatic Ecosystem Research Programme and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has more than 15 years of experience in the fields of aquatic ecology, regional scale ecological risk assessments, water resource management and ichthyology, and has worked extensively across southern, central and northern Africa. Dr. O’Brien’s scientific profile includes the development of and application of regional scale ecological risk assessments methodologies, and E-flow management tools and frameworks. Dr. O’Brien is particularly interested in the evaluation of the relative risk of multiple stressors on a region scale to multiple socio-ecological endpoints and trade-offs between endpoints, where the dynamics of the ecosystem are addressed. Gordon has numerous peer reviewed scientific publications and established collaborations with international scientists from Africa, The Netherlands, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States of America, working with these international experts on various international projects and programmes.

Presentation Title: Framework for regional evaluations of E-flows in the Nile Basin.

Regional E-flow frameworks have been established as best E-flow management practice for the sustainable use and protection of water resources on regional scales and across geo-political regions. These frameworks facilitate holistic E-flow assessments on multiple spatial scales, using a range of E-flow assessment tools with multiple trans-boundary social and ecological considerations. The Nile E-flows Framework meets the requirements of a robust E-flows Framework for the region and incorporates a range of E-flows assessment methods to provide an adaptable, scientifically valid E-flows management framework for the Nile Basin.  The framework established by the Nile Basin Initiative with water resources stakeholders of the basin, conforms to the principles of trans-boundary collaboration and benefit sharing, sustainable water resource use and protection using evidence based, transparent and adaptable tools. The framework, loosely based on the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration framework with local considerations, includes the seven phases of situation assessment and alignment; governance and resource quality objectives setting; hydrological foundation; ecosystem type classification; flow alterations; flow-ecological-ecosystem services linkages; and E-flows setting and monitoring. The framework has been developed and implemented on multiple spatial scales through four trans-boundary case studies in the Nile Basin namely; the Dinder River (Ethiopia/Sudan), the Malaba River (Kenya/Uganda), Mara River (Kenya/Tanzania) and Kagera River (Burundi/Rwanda/Tanzania). The Nile E-flows Framework will contribute to the future aim of managing resources on a regional and ultimately a Nile Basin scale, using information derived from sub-basin scale E-flow management activities. Although this basin scale E-flows assessment process requires the future establishment of scale relevant E-flow management objectives, and a better understanding of the flow-ecology and flow-ecosystem service relationships on a basin scale; the Framework allows for larger regional scale assessments to be undertaken immediately and highlights information needs for larger regional/basin scale assessments.

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