Bridging the gulf to protect our valuable water resources

Emmanuel Umolu, with scarf, and his host counselor Tanny Agustinus, second from left, at a welcoming event for the second class of Rotary scholars at UNESCO-IHE.

Emmanuel Umolu, with scarf, and his host counselor Tanny Augustinus, second from left, a member of the Rotary Club of Delft-Koningsveld, at a welcoming event for the second class of Rotary Scholars at UNESCO-IHE.

By Emmanuel Chinedu Umolu, Rotary Scholar from Nigeria

Three months have gone by since I began my master’s program in Hydraulic Engineering – Land and Water Development at UNESCO-IHE as a Rotary Scholar. The pace of learning has been quite intense. Indeed, most students realized within the first few weeks that the rector was right when he warned us during opening week that the suffix IHE does not meanĀ  “International Holiday in Europe.”

It is, however, not surprising that a lot of intensity and urgency has been incorporated into the programs at UNESCO-IHE. The world is facing an ever-increasing challenge of feeding a population that is growing geometrically. Yet, the natural resources (especially land and water) to sustain this growth is fast depleting due to poor management practices. Surely, we must not continue with the same old practices. Nothing requires greater urgency than this.

The strategic partnership of Rotary and UNESCO-IHE to support the capacity development of water professionals through the award of scholarships came at a right time. Coming from a developing country, I appreciate the vision and goals of this partnership. Many countries are faced with the following ugly situations:

  • Limited qualified local professionals to handle sustainable development projects
  • Aging qualified professionals
  • Limited transfer of skills due to fewer younger professionals being prepped to take over
  • Educational curriculum not updated to handle present realities
  • A lack of avenues to expose new graduates to practical experience
  • Ultimately, the same old practices being used with the same poor results

Rotary has offered my colleagues and I the opportunity to become agents of change, of sustainable development for our common resource — water. I look forward to post-graduation years when I expect to be an active proponent of sustainability within and outside Nigeria. The knowledge I am acquiring now at the Delft campus in the Netherlands will enable me to succeed.

As the weeks go by, I am learning a deeper appreciation of the level of planning and organization that has gone into this partnership. The school’s management is fully aware of how intense the program is, and plans many activities that help relieve students of their stress. The support that comes from Rotary members is phenomenal.

Source: Rotary Voices

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