Hildah Ayesigye, from Uganda, is studying for a Master’s in Water Management and Governance.
How did you hear about IHE Delft?
I come from a small village called Kayanja in the western part of Uganda. I heard about IHE Delft for the first time in 2019 from a colleague. I researched and found out that it is one of the best water institutions in the world. My passion and desire to learn more about improving water and sanitation in my country in disadvantaged areas made me choose IHE Delft. I find the teaching (quality of education) very intriguing as compared to Uganda. Throughout my high school, teachers were more concerned about students passing to another level without strengthening their practical abilities in the study area or encouraging the culture of reading. The teaching practice is more of theory than practice in most schools in Uganda. At IHE Delft, students are trained and equipped with the knowledge and the ability to work hard and strengthen their reading and research skills.
When did you start discovering your passion for water? How did you notice?
I became passionate about water when I was 12 years and learned that waterborne diseases were prevalent in my village and mostly in rural areas of Uganda. I heard that children and adults were dying of typhoid and later cholera. It was sad to see the young generation dying due to a lack of knowledge about water issues. During an internship at Voluntary Action for Development, I worked in rural communities. I observed terrifying water-related scenarios and their impact on people in rural communities. Later on, I worked with the Appropriate Technology Centre for Water and Sanitation (ATC) for 3.5 years, which gave me a clear picture of the water and sanitation sector as whole. Through interaction with the community members and observations, I discovered that many children miss school due to water related challenges. Children have to walk many kilometres to access water. There is also an increase in waterborne disease outbreaks in most rural communities due to a lack of potable water and inequalities in water supply and distribution due to political influence. This inspired me to study water and acquire knowledge for innovative solutions to improve the water and sanitation in Uganda.
Water-related problems in Uganda
In Uganda, an estimated 75% of people live in rural areas where access to clean water often remains a major challenge. Some areas suffer from water scarcity during the dry season, when water sources dry up and people have to dig holes in streams or wells to access underground water. On the other hand, during the rainy season, heavy rains occur in most regions, including urban areas. These spark floods and landslides that cause the death of many people and destroy property. Along with climate change, the authorities’ poor management, planning and governance systems are root causes of these problems. Acquiring knowledge and tools in water management and governance will help me to fill the missing gap in the water sector of my country.
I will return to Uganda and share the knowledge and tools I shall have gained at IHE Delft. I also hope to get involved in schools to educate the young generation about water management, hygiene measures, and how to prevent water-borne diseases for a healthy community.
My first week and student experience
My first week's experience in the Netherlands is clouded because I spent the first ten days quarantined following the COVID--19 measures. Nevertheless, the first months were interesting, with experiencing cold weather and snow for the first time Another captivating activity was cycling which, I use(d) as a form of exercise and as mental therapy. Due to COVID-19, most classes were (are) online, hence it is hard to interact with other students. However, IHE Delft creates a conducive and friendly environment by introducing us to group work activities. Teamwork makes it easy for us as students to get along, interact and learn from one another. The learning system at IHE Delft triggers one to participate actively and adapt to the extensive reading and writing culture and guides one to develop strong research skills. The system is perfect to take you out of your comfort zone. IHE Delft trains students to be do-ers, not dependants.
More information about Water Management and Governance.Read more