- – International
Master of Catchment Science (International)
Applications close 1 October 2019
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a A$508.31 million grant – one of the largest grants ever awarded by the ADB – as part of a A$1 billion water resources project in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – a project being led by International WaterCentre (IWC) alumnus, Hans Woldring. The Arghandab Integrated Water Resources Development Project is a national priority project that aims to develop water resources in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, to help improve the country’s agricultural productivity, water resources management, energy generation and growth outlook. The multi-sector project represents an integrated approach to water resource development, meeting the needs of rural and urban communities downstream of the province’s ageing Dahla Dam and improving how water resources are managed and used in the Arghandab River Basin.
Water supply is under more strain than ever in Asia, as major changes in development, population, and climate change are all stretching resources. In order to help meet the increasing demand for water, many organisations are bringing together human and economic resources to make clean water a powerful source of transformation. Vanh Mixap, who spent time working with Engineers Without Borders and Oxfam in Cambodia, found that when helping build the capacity of female entrepreneurs, soft skills, including mindset, were just as critical to develop as hard economics or technical skills, but were often overlooked. “We brought together about 10 women from across the country, who had the potential to turn their business ideas related to both water and energy into something more tangible,” she says. “The women went through a program to strengthen their knowledge about water supply and sanitation and to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills to address the water and energy related challenges in their own context, with the opportunity to earn a living.” Mixap says the program was an initiative to empower women to create a job that fits their unique circumstances, while contributing to positive social and environmental outcomes. “In the work that I do, usually I would challenge a “pump and pipe solution” to water supply as the only solution and explore what else is possible. I found that by engaging the voices of people who are often not included in the decision-making processes, it opened up possibilities many of us couldn’t imagine.”
The International WaterCentre’s (IWC) scholarship period for entry to study in 2020 is in full swing, with applicants from across Australia, New Zealand and the world vying for one of these prestigious awards. Scholarships for the Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM), the new Master of Catchment Science (MCS), the Water Leadership Program and Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership are all up for grabs. “We invest in providing multiple scholarships each year for entry into our postgraduate, professional development water programs to high-calibre candidates who we think best demonstrate potential as future water leaders,” says Dr Brian S. McIntosh, IWC Education Director. “For our MIWM, recipients come from across the world – from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya, Laos, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Poland, Peru, to name a few. And from across the spectrum of disciplines found working in the water sector – engineers, scientists, lawyers, economists, community development practitioners, data specialists, planners and architects, the list goes on." Dr McIntosh says that the aim of the MIWM is to help develop water leaders who are able to play a significant role in shaping the water sector. "Our graduates transform the way that we plan and deliver WASH services, how we think about and manage water in urban environments and in water resources, and develop effective and innovative water financing solutions to enable private sector involvement in water and sustainable development.” Next year, the IWC will welcome the first cohort of students into the new Master of Catchment Science degree, the only postgraduate, catchment-dedicated degree in the world, which has been developed in collaboration with Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), School of Engineering and Built Environment and School of Environment and Sciences. “For our new MCS, we are looking to attract participants from across Australia, New Zealand and around the world. In particular, we are looking for scientists and engineers who are keen to develop leading edge skills and knowledge that enable them to practice effectively across the boundaries of the natural sciences, engineering, computing, data analysis and economics. With the new MCS we are looking to develop the next generation of catchment science and engineering leaders able to critically develop and assess technical plans, projects, programs and infrastructures to restore and protect catchment functions for ecological, economic and social benefit.” “This means that both of our Masters programs are diverse – each have a blend of people with different professional backgrounds, from different cultures and with different life experiences. We structure our learning processes to ensure that each cohort gets to know each other really well and is able to learn from each other. In the end, they form a life-long network.”
Great entrepreneurs have the ability to change society, shaping the way we live and work. What can entrepreneurs do for water development that will help to achieve the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 6 and deliver universal access to safe water and sanitation? “In the history of human development, it’s always been innovations that have paved the way to overcome societal challenges,” says Dr Christian Vousvouras, a WASH specialist at Nestle. “If we look at the WASH sector, the challenges are different. There are many technological solutions to provide WASH in a cost-efficient manner. What we need today are innovative and effective delivery models. The most successful WASH entrepreneurs will be the ones that find the right business model or that create the right ecosystem around their solution.” Vousvouras says that entrepreneurs can make use of existing multi-stakeholder platforms, such as the Alliance for Water Stewardship,to find a place in an ecosystem with other stakeholders. “The collaboration among different actors will be key. WASH investments have enormous productivity gains from a societal point of view.”
In the natural world, a diverse ecosystem is a healthy and strong one—and business ecosystems are no different. There’s no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to creating and maintaining these ecosystems to deliver clean water in some of the poorest and most isolated parts of the world. “It’s really important to focus on what is the target population for improving access to water from a business standpoint,” says Mike Barbee from market-based safe water charity Water4, which works with local communities in 12 African nations and Peru. “When developing models to help business partners, we need to determine what markets are untapped in terms of potential, and who does not have access from a rights perspective.” Barbee says that focusing on growth potential for local businesses in the sector will provide safe water for more people. “High quality water costs less than five percent of household income, so it’s very affordable to [the] majority of people. We believe people can and do pay for water even in the most rural areas—whether through potable water at community managed water points, or offsetting household use through paying for sachet or bottled water. “If they don’t have access to safe water, they’re paying indirectly, through lost opportunity costs such as healthcare. We are seeing that as an optional aspect of revenue that our partners can tap into, and also help them understand what they’re spending themselves.” Barbee says that the two greatest barriers to entry for water entrepreneurs are financing, such as obtaining seed capital to start up a business, and having the business savvy to deliver a one-off service from time-to-time and to deliver long-term viability and be able to expand. A 2018 Waterpreneurs white paper, Impact Investing for Water, says that the sector is seeing the emergence of hybrid models for water, sanitation, and hygiene financing, because they are considered the most effective, by combining complementary and sometimes unconventional approaches. “Enterprises also see the potential for the franchise model in markets that require intensive demand generation and where it is difficult to provide direct maintenance support,” the report states. “The franchisee makes an initial investment (down payment), with direct or indirect financial support from the CWP enterprise, and operates the unit under a revenue sharing agreement with the enterprise.” An example project is Jibu, operating in East Africa, which is a social franchise business model. Its structure ensure that entrepreneurs operate within the constraints of a revocable franchise license—meaning they are required to adhere to Jibu’s brand standards and charitable goals. One of the project’s innovations is the integration custom banking services for aspiring entrepreneurs, offering entrepreneurs access to both the upfront asset financing needed to launch a business, as well as infrastructure support to keep profits aligned with impact. “The most important thing when looking at the financing, whether a franchise or build-own-operate models, it to contextualise, and ask what will work in this scenario given the market and the demand and the human capacity and capital there,” says Mike Barbee. “In urban and peri-urban areas, those with experience with franchise models or in commerce, generally might be willing to take on a water business. However, in areas with no expertise, it is difficult to replicate franchises in our experience.” Barbee says that when it comes to growing local businesses to maximise their impact, the sector can be guilty of focusing on front-end support. “There needs to be a greater awareness that the process of supply and support is a medium-to-long term project.” This is the second article in a four-part series that explores ideas to improve water and sanitation funding around the world. Read the series: