Professor Barbara Ngwenya of Okavango Research Institute become the first Motswana woman to become professor in the field of Applied Anthropology. Prof Ngwenya was promoted to the rank of full professor on December 3, 2013.
Professor Ngwenya received her Joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Science (Cultural Anthropology) at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, Ann Arbor Michigan (2000); an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from University of Michigan (1998); a Masters of Social Work (Community Specialization) at the Maritime School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (1990); a B.A. in Humanities at the University of Botswana and a Concurrent Diploma in Education (1982).
She joined the University of Botswana, as a lecturer in the Department of Social Work in 1991. She taught courses at degree and diploma level which include Management and Supervision in Human Services, Social Work Methods, Social Work Intervention Skill Development, Social Work Theory and Practice, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Principles and Techniques of Social Work Intervention. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she coordinated Fieldwork Education.
In 2002, Prof Ngwenya joined the Livelihood Unit at the then Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC), currently known as the Okavango Research Institute (ORI), as a Research Fellow. She was promoted to rank of Senior Research Scholar in 2004 and in 2011 to the rank of Associate Professor. At ORI, she was the Coordinator of the ORI Training Program from 2005 to 2011. During this period, she was instrumental in the development of two academic programs that strategically linked staff and students flow between ORI and UB campus in Gaborone. These are ORI Winter School, a six credit intensive eight weeks undergraduate research training: ‘Introduction to Wetland Research’ and a research led graduate program in Natural Resources Management.
Prof Ngwenya was the Guest Editor of the Special Edition on Human Interactions and Natural Resources Dynamics in the Okavango Delta and Ngamiland of Botswana of the Notes and Records Vol 37. The volume includes selection of 10 high-quality winter course student projects completed in 2004. The winter course continues to have a significant research output and serves a good catchment pool for the ORI research led graduate program.
Prof Ngwenya has delivered guest lectures at University of Virginia and at the Center International and Strategic Studies, Africa Program, Washington DC USA, October. 2004. In 2007/2008, Professor Ngwenya was a Visiting Scholar/Wetland Social Scientist at the Wilma H Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University (USA). In 2010, Prof. Ngwenya received specialized training sponsored by IDRC International Development Research Centre in Gender, Climate Change and Adaptation in Naivasha, Kenya and in Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques. In February 2012, she attended the Climate Change and Vector Borne Diseases professional development workshop organized by the Anti-Malaria Association in collaboration with Tropical Diseases Research (TDR) and the University of Columbia’s International Research Institute for Climate Change in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She served as an external assessor of the SADC WaterNet Professorial Chair in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) (Water and Society), at the University of Western Cape, October 2012. In 2012, she became the Acting Director of ORI.
With regard to research, Prof Ngwenya has 64 pieces of publications that shows a spread of national, regional and international publishing outlets, she has 30 refereed journals articles of which she is a lead author in 19. She also has 31 research based technical reports and has presented over 45 research results to the academic community and policy makers in conference presentations, workshops and seminars both nationally, regionally and internationally. Prof Ngwenya research focuses on ecosystems services, health and human well-being,
Prof Ngwenya has successfully completed collaborative research projects and is currently implementing another seven donor funded projects as either the Principal Investigator or Co- Principal Investigator. These projects reflect national, regional and international collaborations and funding sources and raise the profile of the University worldwide. Among project that contributed significantly to raising the profile of the University of Botswana, Prof Ngwenya is the country Coordinator and Co-Investigator of the recently WHO/IDRC funded USD 1 170 000.00 (one million one hundred and seventy dollars) three-year regional project (Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe) on Social, Environment and Climate change Impacts of vector-borne diseases in arid areas of southern Africa hosted at the University of KwaZulu Natal; the Application of the Ecohealth Approach to Understand Flood-recession (Molapo) Farming in the Context of Hydro-climate Variability and Hydro-climate Change in the Okavango Delta, Botswana project funded by International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada $CAD 500 000.00; the IDRC funded East and southern Africa regional ecohealth project: Promoting the ecohealth approach in east and southern Africa through networking.