Building capacity in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS)

Written by Kimberly Wakkary, on 28 March 2018

Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are a distinct group of countries that share similar sustainable development challenges. Such challenges include growing populations, susceptibility to natural disasters and fragile environments. SIDS countries are also more increasingly suffering from water related issues mostly due to climate change, with some islands even facing disappearance because of sea level rise. 

In 2015 the SIDS fellowship programme started under the DUPC2 programme. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of professionals and decision makers in SIDS in order to improve water management and better address future challenges. The programme offers fellowships for Master degrees and short courses for mid-level and senior professionals working in the water sector, and is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Roberto, Crystal and Amit were all working in the water sector prior to their studies at IHE Delft (2015 – 2017), and successfully completed their Master degree last year. This is the third interview with the three alumni. Please follow the links in their names to read their previous interviews.  

“The mangroves are depleting, and the spring tide causes flooding – causing damage to rice farm lands” says Roberto Narine, a SIDS alumnus. Roberto is from Guyana, a country increasingly feeling the pressures of the rising sea-levels. Before studying at IHE Delft, Roberto was working as a district engineer for the Guyanese Ministry of Infrastructure, tasked with monitoring and managing coastal projects. His work as a district engineer provided him the opportunity to see the coastal challenges first hand. “From time to time we had to carry out maintenance work on the sea defences, and two or three months later, the spring tide would come and take everything away”. His experiences led him to apply for the MSc in Coastal Engineering and Port Development. Roberto is now working as a deputy resident engineer at a consultancy firm, and realising some of the concepts taught during his studies as he recently carried out a design for a coastal dike. 

Crystal Conway is also from Guyana, and completed the MSc in Water Science and Engineering, and specialised in Hydroinformatics. She is currently putting theory into practice as a GIS engineer at the National Irrigation and Drainage Authority of Guyana. As a GIS engineer she is tasked with mapping the thousands of kilometres of drainage and irrigation networks. Not only will she help build a workable GIS, she aims to take it to the next stage, and wants engineers to be able to use the acquired data to put drainage systems in places where they know it will do most good. “They would be able to do modelling based on all the data collection. Previously there was none – but now you would have a national system.”

Fiji is an archipelago that enjoys an abundance of surface water. However, the management of resources proves to be a problem. Mismanagement led Amit Singh to complete the MSc in Water Management, specialising in Water Resource Management. Before starting his studies at IHE Delft, Amit was working at a regional organisation in Fiji working on water and sanitation projects, doing field assessments, groundwater assessments and service water assessments. After completing his Master’s, he returned to Fiji and is currently working at the Fiji Water Authority doing, amongst others, delineation for water catchments. Additionally, he is passing on his knowledge and skills to his colleagues.

About their time at IHE Delft, all three have been exceptionally positive. Amit says that the programme is “very nice, very compressed, one of the best”, and adds that his programme “really dealt with the current discourse in water management.” Additionally, Crystal adds that her time at IHE Delft “taught me to build and do, and gave me more confidence. “I returned home feeling more capable to do things”. The SIDS fellowships have offered these students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and improve their capabilities, which is an important factor in addressing water related issues on the islands, “we need the capacity for sure” Roberto says.

This story was written by Kimberly Wakkary (IHE Delft), in collaboration with Crystal Conway, Roberto Narine and Amit Singh.

Read more on SIDS here and check out SIDS fellowship opportunities here

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