Ali Ajaz

Your own passion for a certain topic matters a lot, but also try to come out of your comfort zone and try something new.

South Asia
Pakistan South Asia

What kind of research did you develop for your MSc thesis?
My MSc thesis was focusing on uncertainty in irrigated datasets in Asia. This research was conducted by comparing the information retrieved from global remote sensing maps and statistical archives maintained by regional and national authorities. I compared discrepancies in small, medium and large scale irrigation schemes. I studied the implications of uncertainty in data in relation to food production and water resources planning.

Why did you chose to do conduct your research from South Africa?
My research was funded by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the project office was set in South Africa. Given the nature of the research, it was required to be there in person and to work as a part of project team. Moreover, South Africa also has a major share in African irrigated agriculture, which gave added value to my research in comparing my results with studies conducted in this country.

How did you experience living and studying in South Africa?
Living and working in South Africa was an experience of a lifetime for me. I was sharing a nice home with one of my friend’s family in Pretoria. They were really kind and I got the chance to try a diverse range of nice home-made African food. Though due to tight work schedules I had to cancel my safari plans but I did visit city zoo to explore African wildlife. I also visited Johannesburg, a metropole welcoming fortune seekers from neighbouring regions, and had a great time there with friends. 

My study/work routine was quite intensive; I was working till late in the evening. People there in IWMI office were really friendly and I was given a comfortable office to work. My interaction with the project manager, who was also my co-mentor, was quite convivial and it helped me a lot in developing my research concepts. My Dutch habit of keeping a rain coat in my bag really saved me from evening showers several times.

What would you advise other students when choosing an MSc research?
I would recommend new students to discuss the research topic in detail with their mentors. Either it is a topic offered by your department or a self-proposed research, never expect a smooth road as lot of slipups will be there in the beginning; but things will get clear over time. Your own passion for a certain topic matters a lot, but also try to come out of your comfort zone and try something new. This will enhance your ability to deal with ever-changing nature of professional life and will also groom you to accept new challenges.


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More information about Irrigation Engineering and Management for Food Security.

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