When Dr Oghenekaro Nelson Odume was growing up on the Niger delta in Nigeria he saw how oil companies ruined the water in his village.

With nobody taking responsibility for the pollution, he decided that one day he would do something about it.

Now, as director of the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality at the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University, he researches and creates ground-breaking tools and methods to measure the impact of oil and other substances on water resources, making an early warning system to keep rivers clean from sewage and effluent.

He recently won the International Emerging River Professional Award for his pioneering research. Odume came to South Africa in 2009 to do his master’s on a Carnegie Scholarship. While doing his PhD, he was awarded a grant from the National Research Foundation to work on policy issues for the Water Research Commission of South Africa.

He is the chairperson of the Young Water Professionals in the Eastern Cape, educating scholars about water management. He is in the process of registering a non-profit organisation that will enable young Africans to unlock their potential for entrepreneurship, leadership and financial freedom.

Categories: Healers