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Former Australian Leadership Award recipient works to improve Vietnam's water issues

Born in Hanoi, in the 80s, Hanh Nguyen Hong has seen the city grow into a busier and more dynamic place to live but sadly also a more polluted place with choking river and lake systems.

"I love my hometown city. My past memory is that Hanoi has had many beautiful lakes and rivers," Hanh said. But over the years, Hanh has watched her beloved city and its magical waterways turn into concrete slabs as urbanisation took over due to large populations migrating from rural provinces. "In 1995, the city had 2100 hectares of 110 ponds and lakes, now 30% of water body has been filled up for new construction," Hanh said. "In addition, the city's waterways have been seriously polluted by untreated waste water from industries and domestic waste. Particularly, lake pollution has become far higher than the permitted standard."

Concerned about the environmental, economic and health of the city and its people has motivated Hanh to pursue a career within the water and sanitation sector. "I want to help find solutions and mitigate the negative impacts and improve the situation," she said.

"Australia is one of the world leaders in developing innovative water supply and sanitation technologies, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.  I believe I could learn from Australian scientists and professional solutions to cope with water issues and gain professional skills including using English for work,” Hanh said.

"I thought the Master of Integrated Water Management sounded really attractive. After that I checked on the IWC website that looked nice and user-friendly with all the necessary information including the program structure."

Hanh's reasons for studying IWC Masters program

In 2010 Hanh was awarded an Australian Leadership Awards scholarship to study a Master program in Australia. Already possessing a Bachelor of Water Supply and Drainage Engineering from Hanoi Architectural University and working as a water supply engineer for a consultancy company in Vietnam, Hong was keen to equip herself with greater critical and analytical thinking skills.

"My friends told me that the University of Queensland is one of the best universities in Australia and the climate in Queensland is subtropical, and similar to the climate in Vietnam. When I looked at the list of Masters programs at UQ, I thought the Master of Integrated Water Management sounded really attractive. After that I checked on the IWC website that looked nice and user-friendly with all the necessary information including the program structure,” she said.

Hanh came to Australia in 2011 to study the International Water Centre (IWC) Master of Integrated Water Management. A joint venture among four leading universities including UQ, IWC delivers a leading edge program in integrated water management.

“I have gained so many things from the program that could be used to help my people. Particularly knowledge of sustainability and community development, water and sanitation, water governance, water planning and economics is really helpful. Also, I believe that practical integration skills gained from problem based learning projects from the program were essential in helping me cope with issues and make important decisions,” Hanh said. “The research skills and professional skills I developed from the program have really helped me out when I started working as a development worker in rural sanitation.”

Employment Opportunities

Hanh is now working for an international non-profit development organisation, East Meets West Foundation, as a sanitation consultant for the Community Hygiene Output-based Aid Project, taking responsibility for assisting the Country Director, Senior Operations Director and Program Manager to design project implementation, carry out the project activities, monitoring and evaluation and cooperate with Hanoi School of Public Health to conduct thematic studies on this innovative sanitation approach.

Australia Awards - AusAID Scholarships

Australia Awards are an Australian Government initiative designed to promote knowledge, education links and enduring ties between Australia, its neighbours and the global community. They provide a range of opportunities for study and professional development in Australia. For more information visit:

IWC Master of Integrated Water Management   

IWC Master of Integrated Water Management uses problem-based learning, case studies, field trips and industry placements to develop skills for integrated solutions in the real world. Students graduate with a co-badged qualification from the four member universities (University of Queensland, Monash, Griffith and the University of Western Australia). On average, more than 50 per cent of IWC Master of Integrated Water Management students come from overseas. To find out more, please visit or email


IWC Masters Scholarships



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