Sherine Elwattar comes from Cairo, Egypt. She studied Civil Engineering, with a specialization in Water and Environmental Engineering at Cairo University and then worked for 2.5 years before coming to IHE Delft.
Some years ago, she applied for Master programmes with available scholarships. IHE Delft was one of the partners in the Erasmus programme she applied to, but she was rejected a couple of times. This year, she did not plan to apply, as she was working and did not think of doing an MSc, but she was feeling somewhat demotivated. She saw a social media post from IHE Delft on Facebook about the MENA Scholarships, so she applied, and won a scholarship! “It felt like it was the perfect time, coming at a time when my career was a bit stagnant and I needed to take a step forward. IHE Delft is very well known among our professors’ community (many being alumni from IHE Delft) at Cairo University. They usually talk about IHE Delft as the place to be if you want to pursue a Master’s in Water Engineering. So I am very proud of doing a Master’s in Water Management & Governance.’’
Where did her passion for water come from?
‘’It is very interesting, I am very interested in psychology, connecting with people and understanding human experiences. Human experiences requires resilience. At some point in my life, in my teenage years, I connected resilience with water. I came across this quote that said: ‘’don’t be the rock stuck in the water, be the water that passes through the rock’’. The water is so patient that the rock can dissolve, water is soft and fluid and it accomplishes what it wants. This affected me a lot because I connected this with resilience. From that point on, I could not learn something that I felt had no soul - I feel that water has a soul. The fact is also that, at home, I see the Nile every day. The Nile is very important, it is part of my culture and existence. That is why I am so fascinated to study water.’’
About water issues in Egypt
‘’In Egypt we depend completely on the Nile, which is always mentioned as the number one source of water. But every time you pass by it, you see that it is polluted. I do not understand why no one is regulating or governing the state of the Nile. If you, as a pedestrian or citizen see that the Nile is polluted, that shows that it has reached a bad state and as an observer, as a citizen, I noticed that. After my studies and working in that field I noticed that the problem runs deep. In Egypt, they depend a lot on development projects and funding that is coming from foreign organizations and usually for those projects you have to reach out to as many beneficiaries as possible. The easiest way to do that is though awareness raising. I believe that it has reached a point where you can do awareness raising that leads nowhere, just for the sake of gaining numbers, but it does not cause a root level change. It is one of my goals after graduation to lobby for high level decisions regarding the governance of water. I believe that putting the burdening the citizen with the problem on water, will not lead anywhere if high level decisions are not there. In politics you rarely hear about laws and regulations about water and irrigation. It is usually about other things and that gap is a problem.’’
Sherine is hoping to work in the field of water governance and international cooperation and also transboundary water resources and water relations in Egypt and the surrounding countries. She would also like to work at a decision-making level in water governance and management organisations.
What do you think about IHE Delft and Delft
In the introduction week, Sherine met staff and students online due to Covid-19. It was a challenge to get to know other students, due to the pandemic. ‘’You quickly realize that everyone is different, you look for people that fit with your ideas and character.’’ Sherine mentioned that the weather in the Netherlands is quite a challenge, but she loves the cold. She also loves the system where everything is on time and that the Dutch people are straightforward. She also likes bikes as a means of transportation.
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