Museum of Watery Relations/Water Map
Museum of Watery Relations

South Africa

Museum of Watery Relations/Water Map

2022 2022 Winner Project | Engage Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage)

The Cape Town Museum of Watery Relations and the Water Map draw on transdisciplinary water values-related research to map and co-produce knowledge around various relations with water. The project aims to collaboratively develop an online interactive map of water users, sources, and uses.

Alongside workshops, we provide a repository for submitting water samples, and accept virtual submissions (stories/images linked to local water sites) to develop an understanding of local water users and their perceptions of their water sources. As there is little African representation within the global network of water museums aside from Burkina Faso (see https://www.watermuseums.net), we accept submissions from the continent to contribute to this global discussion on water sources, and can provide data to create a more complete landscape analysis of water sources.

By asking willing participants to submit water samples to our Water Museum, we are not only able to collect data on the quality of accessible water (such analysis we hope to be able to conduct, funding permitting), but we are able to map how and why certain water sources are chosen. This project engages widely with water users to develop an understanding of local values and evaluations of water sources beyond the technical and commonly accepted opinions of ‘experts’.

The impact of this work includes mapping and visually displaying water sources, generating discussions around water values and sites, and increasing awareness of the diversity of relations people have with water.

Amber Abrams

Museum of Watery Relations

Amber Abrams is a Carnegie/DEAL research fellow at Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town. Her work here focuses on social sciences and human health around water, often through engaged, participatory and arts-based methods. During her PhD (University of Kent), Amber focused the wellbeing of South African peoples living on the boundaries of protected areas, which combined her interests in public health, and medical/environmental anthropology with studies in conservation and ecology.

Before this, Amber worked at the South African Medical Research Council managing the WHO-affiliated Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (www.PACTR.org) from 2009 2012, and as a Senior Scientist (part-time consultant, SACC and Environment and Health Unit) from 2012 present on a range of projects from those focused on traditional healing, to clinical guidelines and ethics. Prior to that, Amber completed masters in medical anthropology (UCT) and my undergraduate degree at Barnard College (Columbia University).

Her research currently ranges in topics that include exploring water uses and users perspectives in the Table Mountain National Park area, developing a water museum, researching social aspects of resource recovery from waste-water, and of stormwater interventions in urban environments, exploring health vulnerability in the context of extreme weather events, and a range of public health and social engagement projects focused on water quality/toxicity that make use of arts-based approaches. While her current work primarily focuses on research, she loves teaching, especially research methods courses and creating new spaces for learning in collaboration with others; especially efforts that can disrupt the status quo when it comes to notions of knowledge holders and expertise.