The first class of five Rotary sponsored scholars has graduated with Master of Science degrees in Water Education from the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. The graduates now will apply their education to water and sanitation projects in their home countries of Argentina, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana.
Established in 2011, the partnership between Rotary and UNESCO-IHE — the world’s largest graduate water education facility — addresses the global water and sanitation crisis by increasing the ranks of trained professionals critically needed to devise, plan and implement solutions in countries where communities lack access to clean water and safe sanitation. Rotary provides scholarship grants that enable local Rotary clubs and districts to select and sponsor eligible students to the program. Rotary members mentor the students throughout the program, building positive relationships that continue after graduation.
“We’re proud of the Rotary and UNESCO-IHE partnership and especially proud of our first class of Rotary water scholars, who will now use their expertise to develop sustainable water and sanitation solutions in their home countries,” said Rotary Foundation Trustee Stephen R. Brown. “The mentoring of the students by Rotary clubs and Rotary members – during their studies at UNESCO-IHE, as well as after they return home – is essential to the success of the scholarship program. These relationships and networks will enable students to effectively implement their skills in their own local communities. Their work to improve water and sanitation conditions will have a positive, lasting impact around the world.”
His sentiments are echoed by UNESCO-IHE Rector András Szöllösi-Nagy. “I am confident that as these young professionals return home, they will continue to play a vital role in managing our water systems in a sustainable way for future generations,” he said. “As alumni, they will remain part of the largest network of water professionals and become part of an extensive network of fellow Rotary scholarship recipients and Rotarians worldwide.”
For example, graduate Bernice Asamoah, of Ghana, plans a hygiene project that will use solar power to disinfect water for communal toilet facilities.
Graduate Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli, of Nigeria, knows the value of public education, especially to empower children to become change agents. “The objective is to visit schools and to teach children and adolescents basic sanitation habits,” he said.
Another graduate, Temesgen Adamu, of Ethiopia, points to the World Health Organisation’s statistics indicating that about 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to improved sanitation, and over 783 million people lack access to clean drinking water. “In my home country, the water quality is poor, safe water and sanitation facilities are inaccessible and water based diseases widespread,” Adamu said.
Graduate Gonzalo Duró, of Argentina, said he learned the critical importance of “cooperation between partners, institutions and professionals” in developing solutions to water and sanitation issues, while Uganda’s Godfrey Baguma appreciated the practical nature of the studies. “I am now able to address water and sanitation issues in a more integrated and technical manner,” Baguma said, adding that his interactions with Rotary members helped make Delft “a home away from home.”
Building on the success of the first class, the second class of students – 16 in total – began graduate studies in October 2013 and will graduate in 2015.
The UNESCO-IHE graduates become part of a vast network of Rotary Foundation alumni, consisting of 120,000 leaders and change agents around the world. Since 1947, more than 43,000 students and fellows have received Rotary scholarships supporting studies in a variety of disciplines representing a total investment of more than $557 million.