Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sections

Personal tools

Hong Hanh Nguyen (Vietnam)

Hong HanhMonitoring and Evaluation Program Officer, Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid Project

East Meets West Foundation, Vietnam


Master of Integrated Water Management
(with Australia Awards Scholarship)

Graduated 2011

 

Career path

After gaining a Bachelor of Water Supply and Drainage Engineering from Hanoi Architectural University, Hong Hanh worked as a water supply engineer for a consultancy company in Vietnam.

Her drive to integrate water and people in her work led her to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship to study integrated water management in Australia.

Final semester project

Integrating sanitation marketing in Vietnam

HanhHong Hanh's story

"Water is about people. Everyone needs water and sanitation for life. If you understand that, everything else will follow.”

Hong Hanh Nguyen has always wanted to make a difference, for her people and her country. The sad plight of her country's waterways led her to apply for an AusAID scholarship to study IWC's Master of Integrated Water Management in Australia, in order to pursue that goal.

Hong Hanh was born in Hanoi, Vietnam. Over the years she watched the city grow into a busier and more dynamic place to live, but also into a more polluted place, with choking river and lake systems.

"It used to have many beautiful lakes and rivers," she said. But urbanisation and migration from rural provinces is turning her beloved city and its magical waterways into concrete slabs.

"In 1995, the city had 2,100 hectares of 110 ponds and lakes. Now thirty per cent of that water body has been filled up for new construction. In addition, the city's waterways have been seriously polluted by untreated waste water from industries and domestic waste."

After gaining a Bachelor of Water Supply and Drainage Engineering from Hanoi Architectural University, Hong Hanh worked as a water supply engineer for a consultancy company in Vietnam.

Australia Awards Scholarship

However, this was not enough. "Water is about people," she says. “Everyone needs water and sanitation for life. If you understand that, everything else will follow.”

The drive to integrate water and people in her work led Hong Hanh to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship to study integrated water management in Australia.

“I wanted to get skills to work with people as well as knowledge of water,” she said, "to help find solutions to the environmental, economic and health situation of Hanoi and its people.

Australia's innovation

"Australia is one of the world leaders in developing innovative water supply and sanitation technologies, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. I wanted to learn from Australian scientists and gain professional skills, including using English for work.

"My friends told me that The University of Queensland is one of the best universities in Australia, and that the climate in Queensland is subtropical and similar to the that of Vietnam. When I looked at the list of Masters programs they offered, I thought the Master of Integrated Water Management sounded really attractive.”

Studying in Australia

The process of moving overseas and taking on Masters level study was initially quite challenging, she says. However, when the students began to work together in the program, it was not long before friendships were formed, and Hong Hanh’s English also benefited enormously.

“I have gained so many things from the program that I use now to help my people – knowledge of sustainability and community development, water and sanitation, water governance, water planning and economics. Also, the practical integration skills were essential in helping me cope with issues and make important decisions now.”

East Meets West

Hong Hanh now works for an international non-profit development organisation, East Meets West Foundation, as Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Community Hygiene Output-Based Aid Program (CHOBA), which enhances sanitation and hygiene practices among the rural poor.

"The research and professional skills I developed from the Masters program have really helped me out when I started working in this role,” she said.

“The learning environment in the program is great. Lecturers provide advice on how to actually solve real world problems ourselves, rather than just imposing knowledge. This enables students to go out into the field and do the same.

"And I have learnt so much from my fellow classmates. They have been always supportive and encouraging. Now I am so happy to have good friends from all continents.

“This course has changed the way I communicate with people and how I work. I focus more on the process now – working with people.”

Water is about people

With the new skills and opportunities her Masters degree has given her, Hong Hanh is now taking her message back to her country:

"Water is about people. If you understand that, everything else will follow."

 

East Meets West
East Meets West was born from one woman's dream of helping to heal the wounds of war between the United States and Vietnam. In 1988, LeLy Hayslip, whose life story was chronicled in two books she wrote and in Oliver Stone's film, Heaven and Earth, returned to her village of Ky La in central Vietnam and started East Meets West. Its mission statement is to transform the health, education and communities of disadvantaged people in Asia by building partnerships, developing opportunities and creating sustainable solutions. (www.eastmeetswest.org)

 

 

 

IWC Masters Scholarships

 

Personal tools