The BRAVE project brings a unique approach of integrating both the social and physical sciences and working, in partnership with, local communities to support effective translation and uptake of research activities. Co-benefits result in the opportunity for students and researchers to learn directly from communities on what is needed and how the BRAVE project can be most effective and beneficial for local communities and partners. A primary example of this work is demonstrated through BRAVE’s Student and Community Research Exchanges. Within the BRAVE project three catchments have been equipped with infrastructure that allows detailed monitoring of all aspects of the water balance. At the Sanon site in Burkina Faso, monitoring is led by Narcisse Gahi, a BRAVE PDRA who sits within IRC, and by Jean Pierre Sandwidi at the University of Ouagadougou, as well as Mahamadou Koita at 2iE. At the Vea Catchment sites in Ghana and Burkina Faso it is led by WASCAL Technician, Sammy Guug, with assistance from the Water Research Institute.
At the Sanon village site, the project has rented local accommodation where students live through the period of the wet season. So far, over two wet seasons, three MSc students and seven BSc students from the University of Ouagadougou and 2iE have gathered data for the project. These students come from hydrology and biology-related courses. At the Vea Catchment sites, a WASCAL PhD student has been collecting data, as well as an intern and a BSc student. It is pleasing to see this collaboration that both improves data collection and builds capacity for local students.
During these stays, students, researchers and communities learn from each other through research conducted and collaborative exchanges. Students and researchers learn how to conduct fieldwork in communities gaining critical understanding and experience in data collection techniques, but also the role of communities within the research process. Communities also gain first-hand understanding of the research being conducted in their community as well as an insight into the important work being done through national universities and how that work can produce benefits nationwide and at community levels. The BRAVE Project Team is very grateful to the students and their supervisors and BRAVE communities for these opportunities.