Eight scholars, sponsored by Rotary International, will begin an 18-month academic programme at UNESCO-IHE on 18 October 2012. The Rotary and UNESCO-IHE partnership was established in 2011 to address the world’s water and sanitation crisis by increasing the ranks of trained professionals critically needed to devise, plan, and implement solutions in developing countries that bear the brunt of the problem.
Through this strategic partnership, The Rotary Foundation – the charitable arm of Rotary International – provides grants to Rotary clubs and districts to select and sponsor eight students each year for scholarships to any of three 18-month Master of Science degree programs at UNESCO-IHE, which is the world’s largest postgraduate water education facility.
"By identifying high-quality, high-potential candidates for these scholarships, Rotary clubs help the countries most impacted by the water and sanitation crisis increase their capacity to identify and implement solutions. It is a strategic, long-term investment with long-term benefits,” said Rotary Foundation Chair Wilfrid J. Wilkinson.
Apart from the funding by The Rotary Foundation, Rotary clubs and Rotarians are mentoring the students both in their home country as well as during their stay at UNESCO-IHE in The Netherlands. Relationships and networks are built that enable the students to effectively implement their skills upon return to their home country. “This is extremely important for the success of the partnership,” said social programme coordinator Henk Jaap Kloosterman. ”These students are moving to a foreign country with a different culture to learn a new profession, which in itself is quite a challenge. Local Rotarians are there to support these young, dynamic people who have the drive to improve the living conditions of their countrymen, who often lack access to clean water."
“My academic programme and future career will predominantly help towards addressing my community’s water and sanitation issues by embarking on groundwater exploration, organizing training at the local government, making available well-designed disposal facilities, and carrying out routine water quality assessment,” said Rafiu Jimoh from Lagos, Nigeria.
According to a joint report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, about 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. About 884 million obtain water for drinking, cooking, and washing from unprotected sources. Waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, claim nearly two million lives a year, most of them children under age five. The continuous task of fetching water keeps millions of people, especially women and girls, from going to school and holding productive jobs. Improved water and sanitation is key to reversing this trend.
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, under its new Future Vision plan, seeks to forge strategic partnerships with established organizations with expertise in Rotary’s six areas of focus, one of which is water and sanitation. The other focus areas are peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. The foundation grants support major international projects with sustainable, high impact outcomes.
Eight UNESCO-IHE students have been selected for a 2012-2013 Rotary Scholarship: Temesgen Adamu (Ethiopia), Godfrey Peterson Baguma (Uganda), Kenechukwu Okoli (Nigeria), Annet Ahimbisbwe (Uganda), Rafiu Jimoh (Nigeria), Bernice Asamoah (Ghana), Juma Haineni (Kenya) and Gonzalo Duró (Argentina).