Hubert H. G. Savenije
The 2015 Alexander von Humboldt Medal is awarded to Hubert H. G. Savenije for outstanding research and for providing superb graduate student training opportunities in developing regions, for the benefit of people and society, in the field of hydrology, water resources and estuarine water sciences.
Hubert Savenije from the Delft University of Technology has dedicated much of his career to education and capacity building of water scientists from developing countries. In 2000, he was the main initiator and driving force behind the establishment of WaterNet with the purpose of providing education, research, training and outreach in integrated water resources management. Currently WaterNET consists of a regional network of 50 universities in Southern Africa, and over 400 master students have graduated through this programme. WaterNet organises an international water science symposium each year that is the focal point of scientific exchanges in the region and further afield. The twelve special issues in the Physics and Chemistry of the Earth journal, coordinated by Savenije and including papers from these symposia, form a unique body of the international scientific literature on water sciences in Africa.
Savenije’s cutting edge research in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia is carried out with the young ‘in-country’ scientists, and provides the fundamental scientific basis to optimise agricultural production in moisture-limited environments and, consequently, support food security where societies are extremely vulnerable. Specifically, his research showing that recycling of moisture through evaporation in the Sahel is responsible for more than 90% of the rainfall has widespread water management implications throughout arid and semi-arid zones and is an important finding for combatting desertification.
Savenije’s services to the scientific community are numerous and include the editorship of several journals and the organisation of scientific symposia. For all of these reasons, he is a worthy recipient of the 2015 EGU Alexander von Humboldt Medal.