Adnan Hakeem (Pakistan)
Master of Integrated Water Management
(with IWC Scholarship)
I embarked on a career in the development field as a trainer and later took on more challenging roles as a social mobilisation specialist, project coordinator, area development officer and project manager in a range of geographical and contextual settings in Pakistan.
In my earlier years, I worked more in youth development and women’s empowerment projects but soon transitioned into the humanitarian sector as my country experienced a paradigm shift in development following a series of natural disasters including the 2005 earthquake and flooding in 2010. During this period, I became more engaged in the shelter and WASH sectors working with various national and international organisations including NRSP, RSPN, UN-Habitat, Medecins du Monde, IOM and Save the Children.
My academic background is equally as diverse and evolving as my professional one. I studied biology at my undergraduate level before completing a Master of Science in Women’s Studies from Allama Iqbal Open University Pakistan. In 2015 I then completed a Master of Philosophy in Gender Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University.
Urbanisation and sanitation access in Pakistan
Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world and increasing urbanisation and political instability has resulted in millions of people lacking access to safe water or basic sanitation facilities such as a toilet. The situation was aggravated by a series of natural disasters that hit the country and led to a great deal of attention from organisations and development professionals. I began to work in the WASH sector at this time, and developed an increased interest in the field following heavy floods in 2010 that destroyed a significant amount of rural and urban area across the country. I worked initially with IOM and later with UN-Habitat on projects that focused both on shelter and WASH interventions in flood stricken areas. These experiences brought me more into the WASH field and since then my professional roles have predominately revolved around the water sector.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for community development
My engagement in various community based projects focused on bringing positive change to communities and make a difference in their lives through interventions which would benefit them in the long run. These projects included activities such as promoting handwashing with soap, constructing latrines, installing hand pumps, conducting water quality testing and constructing wetlands, as well as coordinating and collaborating with government authorities. While I have practical experience working on these projects I felt an urge to gain more knowledge and expertise in the same field by studying in a formal setting.
I was searching for a qualification that could build a theoretical base and reinforce my professional work. Lucky enough I found the International WaterCentre's (IWC) Master of Integrated Water Management with scholarship opportunities. I felt motivated to apply for it and without hesitation I did so.
I feel lucky to be part of this international program. I am studying here and realising my dream because the IWC granted me a generous scholarship, for which I am so grateful!
Developing the skills to tackle ‘wicked problems’ in the water sector
The MIWM program is based on integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to water management. Through the course I am developing research, critical thinking and analysis skills, and learning to work in small and large, diverse groups with a range of professional background and nationalities.
The field visits to catchments, rivers, dams, wastewater treatment plants etc. are giving me a broader understanding of IWM and helping me to relate the concepts we are learning in the class. This is providing me with an understanding to reflect on my own practices and experiences.
The program is preparing me well to address the contemporary and future issues related to integrated water management and specifically training me to tackle what we call the ‘wicked problems’ in the water sector.
My familiarity with all aspects of integrated water management from local to global scale and development of managerial skills for the design and operation of water projects will grow and give me more confidence, expertise and professionalism in my career.
The water sector in Pakistan is facing a large number of challenges in irrigation, urban drinking water supplies, wastewater management and water storage. The quality of the services is still poor, as evidenced by intermittent water supply in urban areas and limited wastewater treatment. The scale and scope of the issues are large and require more attention and professional commitment. I hope to contribute in the WASH field which is growing rapidly and suffers from a huge gap in trained and qualified WASH professionals. Poor drinking water quality and sanitation leads to major outbreaks of waterborne diseases in both rural and urban areas of the country. Like my previous experience I will continue to work in the rural communities of the country and would continue playing my part in bringing a positive change in their lives.