Pauline Komolong (Papua New Guinea)
KIRIWATSAN P2 Project Coordinator
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Kiribati
Master of Integrated Water Management
Pauline is a Civil Engineer who has worked and specialised in WASH in the remote communities in PNG. She is now Project Coordinator for the Kiribati Water and Sanitation Project Phase 2, working for SPC with the Ministry for Public Works and Utilities in Kiribati and managing the EU project for the outer islands in Kiribati.
WASH in PNG
In PNG where I come from, engineering is a male dominated field. That was why I decided to become an engineer, with motivation from my dad.
I became interested in WASH soon after I completed my bachelor’s degree. Rural villages in PNG lack reliable, safe water and sanitation. This has resulted in high diarrhoeal rates in the country, and it particularly affects girls' education as they tend to be the water bearers, who walk miles to fetch water for the family.
Australia Awards Scholarship
When I worked with Oxfam New Zealand, I attended all the WASH Conferences in Australia and I learned about IWC's Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM). From the moment I heard about it, I was determined I would do it.
What attracted me most was the way it brings together professionals from all sorts of backgrounds in the management of water, not just engineers.
So it was a dream come true when I applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship in 2012 to allow me to study the MIWM and was awarded one in 2013.
Master of Integrated Water Management
The role I am in now is high level compared to the one I had before the course. The MIWM has enabled me to understand policy and framework, and how different roles in the Ministry of Public Works and Utility can work together with other key stakeholders to ensure that sustainability of projects is planned and implemented, with input from various groups of key actors.
I also wanted to be able to work regionally, and the course has enabled me to do that now I am with SPC, which is a regional organisation.
For anyone thinking of applying for an Australia Awards Scholarship and enrolling in the MIWM, I'd like to say that the MIWM is not an engineering course. It's made up of students from all kinds of water-related professions from all over the world. You'll gain a lot from the course, and gain from sharing knowledge and experience with the class.
I would also really encourage more females from the Pacific region to take up this amazing course. Water is life and we need to manage our water resources sustainably.
It's worth the 18 months of study to do it full-time. The dedicated IWC staff made me feel part of a family, and added the spice to make the course extra enjoyable. And time flies when you're having fun!
I am still very interested in sanitation and hygiene, which remains a challenge in the Pacific. I want to be able to implement a sustainable sanitation design that's suitable for small islands like the Kiribati, and to devise models to create business in this country of isolated islands.
Working in small islands is also a large challenge in PNG, so this current role will enable me to see how implementation of sustainable sanitation and hygiene can be applied there on the small island and coastal communities as well.
The skills and knowledge I have gained will really help me professionally as I face the future of WASH in the Pacific.
The IWC family
Arriving in January and leaving my family behind was really tough for me, but the atmosphere that IWC created quickly made me feel at home. I made wonderful friends and the IWC staff were very encouraging, which made me feel better.
So a big thank you to the awesome IWC team for making my studies an enjoyable experience and one that I will never forget. I have really enjoyed my journey in Brisbane!