Sundus Dawood Al-Ogaidi

This MSc specialization will give me the confidence and knowledge to help address water management challenges in Iraq.

Middle East and North Africa
Iraq Middle East and North Africa

Sundus Dawood Al-Ogaidi, from Iraq, is studying for a Master’s in Water Management and Governance.

How did you hear about IHE Delft?
I come from Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Governorate in northern Iraq. I worked at the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Water and Habitat Department as an engineering assistant. In my job I realized that water issues are complicated and that hard work is needed to have tap water. I searched for ways for me to gain more knowledge to solve these water issues, and my manager, an IHE Delft alumnus, advised me to follow an IHE Delft short course and to apply for a master.

What are the benefits of studying here?
I like the international diversity and the opportunity to interact with distinguished lecturers and make new friends from all over the world. We learn from each other as we have different backgrounds.

Why did you choose to study in the field of water?
I want to provide safe water to everyone. I am a part of a community that suffered from water scarcity, especially during the Islamic State group presence in Mosul, where some people are still without access to safe water. I volunteered at the International organisation of Migration (IOM) as a community focal point, which made me understand the needs, horrific past and current suffering of people. My work at the ICRC’s Water and Habitat Department  engineering assistant exposed me to many water projects and water service assessments. This made me aware of the needs of people, weaknesses in the system and the lack of water management. Timely emergency water supply arrangements by international organisations led to temporary relief, but the local water services were not able to address the needs of the most vulnerable people: the displaced population. I strongly believe in the need for better governance, long-term planning and strategic thinking to achieve the goal of leaving no one behind in Mosul. This requires building capacity of local water professionals like me who understand the local context and can empathise with its people.

Water-related problems in Iraq 
Iraq relies heavily on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as surface water resource and on groundwater. Uncertain factors such as climate change and its consequences – mainly less rain and higher temperatures - pose threats. International and transboundary political factors have a significant negative influence on Iraqi water resources. Iraq’s water quality standards and water treatment capacity are limited. It lacks sustainable practices in wastewater treatment and wastewater recovery, as well as efficient long-term planning and management processes. There’s also inefficient water use, the presence of micro-pollutants and climate-related disruptions in the availability and quality of water. These problems will become worse with time as demand increases due to the increasing population. 

My first week and student experience
I followed an IHE Delft short course earlier this year, it was online because of COVID-19. I made some friends from that short course who were also going to follow a Master at IHE Delft. When I arrived, I was excited to meet them in person as they were very supportive. I am very impressed with the way of teaching: it is very different from what I experienced in Iraq. The way we focus on one module helps us to get the maximum benefit from the learning objectives in each module. Before I arrived in Delft, I was worried that I might feel uncomfortable as a Muslim female wearing a hijab, and I felt so relieved when I saw that people at IHE Delft and in the Netherlands are very open to diversity. 

After graduation
This MSc specialization will give me the confidence and knowledge to help address water management challenges in Iraq. Iraq needs practitioners with relevant academic backgrounds and skills to resolve water disputes; to manage water effectively; to develop and promote strategies and to develop mechanisms and tools for water cooperation and water diplomacy. Water governance and stakeholder engagement in formulating and implementing solutions to resolve water challenges is receiving more attention. The inclusion of women in decision making is also important. 

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