Global Water Institute held this amazing event filled with various speakers of different professions, educational backgrounds, ethnicity, etc, where they all came together to discuss GWI and how they all got involved in this program. This is the second year that this event is being held and it is occurring following the success of GWI’s first Did You Know: Ohio State Activities in Tanzania event last year, but this year they decided to focus more broadly on the entirety of East Africa. They had amazing speakers that included current students, graduating seniors, graduate students and professionals in their rightful careers, which allowed for there to be a great mix of opinions and experiences to share.
They started out by explaining what Global Water Institute is. “This Ohio State program focuses on water issues and how they are about people, ecosystems, and financial realities. They are about climate and energy and old habits dying hard. Since really thorny water issues don’t have a single cause, the only way to make progress is to integrate all of those other pieces, people, energy, climate, economics, into the solution. What’s needed is a neutral technology integrator, combining the best pieces and ideas regardless of where they come from. That’s where the GWI comes in.” This program, to me, wants to create long lasting solutions through much research and trials, and by getting hands on data and experience in the respective country with these water problems. They emphasized how they wanted to focus on working with closely with the people of the village they are helping, which in the first years it was a small village in Tanzania, they make sure to do follow up trips to make sure and maintain the success of their implemented programs.
Each of the speakers all work with GWI but do this through different efforts. Paul Gerber, who is with the Solar Engineering Service Learning, explained about a study abroad opportunity in Tanzania that he has for undergrad and graduate students of Ohio State. Through this study abroad, during the May-Mester, they were able to build and install solar panels in an all boys dormitory in Tanzania. The Ohio State students worked together with the Arusha College in Tanzania to make this happen and it seems to have positively helped the community and these young boys.
Another speaker Ann O’Connell talked about how she and a few other professors in various different fields have come together to do Health and Education Research. They are working to develop and enhance methodology through workshops. They want to help improve self pride within the nation of Ethiopia and the increased pride these students could have for their country. They worked with Addis Ababa University to help work with the children and get research and help do their best to allow for these children to succeed and become what they want in the future.
As and East African myself, I understand and appreciate a lot of the work they were doing and talking about. There are many issues within East Africa, and irrigation systems and water technologies are one of the many things they so desperately need. By providing the necessary tools, educating the youth of Africa, and helping create contacts and connections, it will really help these countries to succeed and thrive in the future.
I feel like I learned so much about global Water Institute and I hope to get more knowledgeable about water systems in Africa and how I can help contribute to this cause myself. I know my country of Eritrea could use more knowledge and help in this area and maybe I could help create the change that will help the nation thrive.