Australian Partners

Charles Darwin University

Charles Darwin University is a dual-sector higher education provider offering vocational and higher education services from Certificate 1 to PhD. Charles Darwin University is also among the most research-intensive of Australian universities, with world-class research strengths in Tropical and Indigenous Health, and in Environment and Livelihoods. CDU enjoys the fastest growth in international student numbers in the Australian higher education sector, with Nepal, India, Bangladesh and The Philippines as key sources of international students. Notwithstanding the low population base of the NT and its relative youth, CDU performs remarkably well in world rankings, in the top 2% of all universities worldwide, and in the top 50 under 50 years of age (Times Higher Education). CDU is ranked fourth among Australian research institutions for research quality in Environment and Ecology by Thompson Reuters. CDU has a long history of engagement with countries to our north through research and education. We enjoy particularly close ties with Eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste, including in DFAT-funded projects investigating food and water security. We partner with many universities, government agencies and research institutes across the region. We work closely with the NT Government through a high-level partnership. Through its Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), CDU has significant experience and expertise in brokering, hosting and leading major national research collaborations with a focus on water management in tropical ecosystems. As elaborated below, senior staff have significant expertise and extensive experience in water policy, water management and water research in Australia and the region.

Provision of research and education (VET and HE) services in the following areas:
• Freshwater ecology and management
• Water quality assessment and monitoring systems
• Fish ecology, fisheries management and Indigenous fisheries livelihoods
• Environmental flow requirements
• Water policy (including water reform) in Australia and south-east Asia
• Watershed planning and management (including Landcare & participatory approaches)
• Irrigation system infrastructure in developing contexts
• Water and food security, and climate change adaptation and mitigation
• Groundwater-surface water interactions
• The human dimensions of water management in developing contexts

  • Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive (EIFI)
    Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive is a CDU-led research and education project undertaken in rural west Timor, in a collaboration with three Indonesian Universities, involving investigation of household food production, irrigation water access and availability, and water infrastructure management and governance. Using Rapid Rural Appraisal techniques to investigate barriers to adequate household food production, within a government-sponsored irrigation development. Fieldwork involves a biennial two-week intensive in a remote village for Australian and Indonesian course-work students who learn while embedded within the research team comprising staff from all four universities. Funded by ATSE Crawford Fund, CDU Project Grants and Plant Biosecurity CRC.
  • Reducing Negative Impacts from Artisanal Small Scale Mining in Eastern Indonesia funded by the DFAT Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) programme.
    The $1.25m project is a collaboration between CDU, ANU and two Indonesian universities, and Indonesian government agencies in two eastern Indonesian provinces to minimize the negative impacts of artisanal or small scale mining (ASM). ASM has detrimental impacts on health, social cohesion and long-term livelihoods through environmental damage particularly through pollution of waterways. This project is increasing local capacity to monitor and reduce the negative impacts; improving governance, promoting sustainable economic development, alleviating poverty and saving lives. Activities include training for Indonesian partners, multi-stakeholder forums, and workplace attachments and a study tour for Indonesian officers in northern Australia.
  • AIIRA (Australia-Indonesia Infrastructure Research Awards) within IndII (Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative) program
    Improving Irrigation Infrastructure for Greater Food and Water Security in Eastern Indonesia. A multidisciplinary research team of engineers, natural resource and agricultural scientists, government sanitation officers, planners and social scientists, is working to build capacity to improve effectiveness of infrastructure for access to drinking water, sanitation and irrigation water, with the ultimate aim of improving the livelihoods of the rural population. The research team is built upon longstanding collaborative partnerships among Indonesian and Australian (CDU and ANU) university staff, District agency staff and village communities and leadership, in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).
  • Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology Unit project on water quality impacts of sewage effluent in tropical, macro-tidal conditions
    The first study of the microbiology of a tropical creek impacted by sewage effluent developed novel impact assessment methods using N-cycle functional markers applicable in fresh or marine waters. A related PhD project has measured seasonal variations in sources and cycling of nitrogen and carbon in these creeks and δ15N in mangrove leaves decrease with distance from the outfall. This represents an ideal annual monitoring tool to trace the dispersal of sewage effluent, with widespread potential application in tropical regions internationally.
  • Daly River Fish & Flows study
    This study investigates how flow influences freshwater fish communities of the Daly River, NT in order to predict the impact of increasing dry season water extraction. Now in its tenth year, it is among the longest running assessments of freshwater fishes in northern Australia. The project works closely with Aboriginal traditional owners, documenting Indigenous knowledge of fish ecology and the cultural significance of fish, to aid in water management. The project is led by CDU in partnership with 2 Universities, 2 Government departments and the Traditional Owners of the catchment.
  • PhD projects in south-east Asia (two of many summarized here)
    The first empirical study in Laos focusing on social, economic and environmental impacts on downstream communities from the establishment of hydropower dams on the Mekong and its tributaries was conducted as a CDU PhD research project from 2010. Another multidisciplinary investigation produced a first order sediment budget for a catchment in the data-poor wet dry tropics of eastern Indonesia using Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), and free software and imagery. Key informant interviews identified gully erosion sites. Low-tech methods used were effective and readily applicable in areas where data are scarce and technical capacity and financial resources are low.
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