- Research project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
“We only have the one [planet], and we’re not going anywhere yet. My perspective is about having a conscience of equity, and this reflects my approach to the world, particularly surrounding water, sanitation and security. I believe that an equality of opportunity is very important.” Although Rosie grew up among the farms of rural northern New South Wales in the south east of Australia, she’s no stranger to an overseas adventure. Her career as an environmental engineer has seen her work across the world – from India to Sudan, Bangladesh to Uganda. But she believes now is the right time for her to return home to Australia, to share her experiences and insights, and to explore ways to leverage her knowledge to better protect our local water resources. “I think I had a very idyllic childhood, growing up in the bush. Mum was a teacher and Dad was a lawyer, so they weren’t farmers, but we were surrounded by farms. We loved it when we were young kids … and now that I’m older, all I want to do is go back.”
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a A$508.31 million grant – one of the largest grants ever awarded by the ADB – as part of a A$1 billion water resources project in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – a project being led by International WaterCentre (IWC) alumnus, Hans Woldring. The Arghandab Integrated Water Resources Development Project is a national priority project that aims to develop water resources in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, to help improve the country’s agricultural productivity, water resources management, energy generation and growth outlook. The multi-sector project represents an integrated approach to water resource development, meeting the needs of rural and urban communities downstream of the province’s ageing Dahla Dam and improving how water resources are managed and used in the Arghandab River Basin.
Last month, the International WaterCentre (IWC) welcomed 26 participants from across the Asia-Pacific region for the Asia-Australia Learning Week 2019, to discuss the role of decision support tools in water policy development, investment planning and the on-ground management of water resources. Participants came from 14 countries from across the region, and comprised of nine Asian Development Bank (ADB) staff and 17 representatives from ADB Developing Member Countries. The group represented a broad cross-section of professional backgrounds seen across the water sector – civil engineers, policy and planning officers, economists, finance specialists, hydrologists, environmental scientists, social scientists and IT experts – and were each at different stages of their careers – from specialists, to mid-level managers to country-level directors.
Water supply is under more strain than ever in Asia, as major changes in development, population, and climate change are all stretching resources. In order to help meet the increasing demand for water, many organisations are bringing together human and economic resources to make clean water a powerful source of transformation. Vanh Mixap, who spent time working with Engineers Without Borders and Oxfam in Cambodia, found that when helping build the capacity of female entrepreneurs, soft skills, including mindset, were just as critical to develop as hard economics or technical skills, but were often overlooked. “We brought together about 10 women from across the country, who had the potential to turn their business ideas related to both water and energy into something more tangible,” she says. “The women went through a program to strengthen their knowledge about water supply and sanitation and to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills to address the water and energy related challenges in their own context, with the opportunity to earn a living.” Mixap says the program was an initiative to empower women to create a job that fits their unique circumstances, while contributing to positive social and environmental outcomes. “In the work that I do, usually I would challenge a “pump and pipe solution” to water supply as the only solution and explore what else is possible. I found that by engaging the voices of people who are often not included in the decision-making processes, it opened up possibilities many of us couldn’t imagine.”
The International WaterCentre’s (IWC) scholarship period for entry to study in 2020 is in full swing, with applicants from across Australia, New Zealand and the world vying for one of these prestigious awards. Scholarships for the Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM), the new Master of Catchment Science (MCS), the Water Leadership Program and Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership are all up for grabs. “We invest in providing multiple scholarships each year for entry into our postgraduate, professional development water programs to high-calibre candidates who we think best demonstrate potential as future water leaders,” says Dr Brian S. McIntosh, IWC Education Director. “For our MIWM, recipients come from across the world – from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya, Laos, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Poland, Peru, to name a few. And from across the spectrum of disciplines found working in the water sector – engineers, scientists, lawyers, economists, community development practitioners, data specialists, planners and architects, the list goes on." Dr McIntosh says that the aim of the MIWM is to help develop water leaders who are able to play a significant role in shaping the water sector. "Our graduates transform the way that we plan and deliver WASH services, how we think about and manage water in urban environments and in water resources, and develop effective and innovative water financing solutions to enable private sector involvement in water and sustainable development.” Next year, the IWC will welcome the first cohort of students into the new Master of Catchment Science degree, the only postgraduate, catchment-dedicated degree in the world, which has been developed in collaboration with Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), School of Engineering and Built Environment and School of Environment and Sciences. “For our new MCS, we are looking to attract participants from across Australia, New Zealand and around the world. In particular, we are looking for scientists and engineers who are keen to develop leading edge skills and knowledge that enable them to practice effectively across the boundaries of the natural sciences, engineering, computing, data analysis and economics. With the new MCS we are looking to develop the next generation of catchment science and engineering leaders able to critically develop and assess technical plans, projects, programs and infrastructures to restore and protect catchment functions for ecological, economic and social benefit.” “This means that both of our Masters programs are diverse – each have a blend of people with different professional backgrounds, from different cultures and with different life experiences. We structure our learning processes to ensure that each cohort gets to know each other really well and is able to learn from each other. In the end, they form a life-long network.”