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IWC Water Leader Scholarship recipient story

IWC Scholarship recipient, Declan Hearne from Ireland, speaks about his work in Peru, Philippines and Indonesia.

Professional background

I started my professional career focused on agriculture and water pollution along the south coast of Ireland. After a couple of years working with local governments and private consultants, I ventured overseas to work in Peru, Philippines, and Indonesia.

My work then took on a strong community development focus through the implementation of natural resources management (NRM) and integrated water resource management (IWRM) programs with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the HELP Davao Network in southern Philippines.

On the remote Indonesian island of Nias, off the west coast of Sumatra, I worked with SurfAid International leading community-based health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and disaster risk management programs. I am currently leading the coordination and development of the HELP Davao Network in the southern Philippines.


"I was attracted to the IWC’s practical approach to water management and its focus on building future water leaders."

A few years ago I became aware of the IWC’s progressive work with water and development across the Asia Pacific region. I was attracted to the IWC’s practical approach to water management and its focus on building future water leaders.

Having worked for some years in water management, I recognised that the experience I was gaining was mostly self-taught. I sought to find a master’s program where I could share and benchmark my current experience with innovative approaches for water management.

The mix of management tools backed with water science and user-driven application offered through the IWC Master of Integrated Water Management matches the skill set I seek to equip myself with.


Along with the skills and qualification achieved through the program, I expect that the networks in which the IWC is actively participating will prove invaluable for developing a dynamic career path in water management.

Through my work here in the Philippines, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in water networks such as the Network of Asian River Basin Organisations (NARBO) and the Asian Pacific Water Forum (APWF) Knowledge Hubs. Through these networks I have already met with some of the IWC team leaders and I have been inspired by their approach to water and development.

These networks can provide many opportunities for learning from real experiences and building personal connections that can last long beyond the length of the Masters.

Coupling exposure to the networks with having a Masters tailored to integrated water management from a centre that has quickly become recognised as a leading centre of water learning across the region and beyond, I believe that the program will position me ahead of many other emerging water professionals.


In both the Philippines and Indonesia I have worked with communities and local governments who are now suffering effects from poor water management. These negative impacts are taking toll on human and ecosystem health. Poor sanitation behaviours and degraded ecosystems are both affecting productivity levels in local communities and their potential to prosper.

After completion of the Masters, I aspire to take on leadership roles in programs that are helping to proactively address water resource issues and are enabling better health and green growth for local communities.

Much of my work is based on a strong belief in the role that sound science can play in guiding societal development.

In Davao, in southern Philippines, I have seen numerous examples of how the introduction of science in local government debates can help overcome conflicting interests and build better opportunities for collaboration.

(For plenty of examples see: )

I believe that the way water resources are developed and managed will play a key role in enabling good governance, reducing risks and determining how ‘green’ growth pathways will be.


IWC Masters Scholarships



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