Rotary partners with world’s largest postgraduate water education institution

By Arnold R. Grahl and Wayne Hearn, Rotary International News — 28 November 2011

Rotary clubs will be helping train engineers and scientists to solve problems in water and sanitation, particularly in developing countries, through a new strategic partnership between The Rotary Foundation and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

Through the partnership, the Foundation will offer packaged grants that Rotary clubs may use to select and sponsor scholarships for professionals in the water sector. Up to eight students a year may be chosen for any of three master of science programs at the institute in Delft, the Netherlands.

Both the institute and Rotary share a vision of making water and sanitation more accessible and more sustainable for all people, particularly the poor. The partnership directly supports Rotary’s water and sanitation area of focus.

“This strategic partnership with UNESCO-IHE enables Rotary to work with a globally recognized leader in the training of water professionals at a time when such experts are desperately needed in many parts of the world,” said Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair William B. Boyd. “By identifying high-quality, high-potential candidates for these scholarships, Rotary clubs will play an important role in addressing a serious global problem.”

“Eighty percent of diseases in the developing world are caused by the lack of water and appropriate sanitation,” said UNESCO-IHE rector András Szöllösi-Nagy. “The cooperation with Rotary is an important milestone in the large-scale, global capacity building required to tackle this crisis.”

Since 1957 UNESCO-IHE, the world’s largest postgraduate water education facility, has provided master of science degrees and promoted PhDs to more than 14,500 water professionals from over 160 countries. The institute also promotes research and capacity building projects, manages a worldwide network of educational institutions and organizations the water sector, provides professional expertise on water education, and plays a role in setting international standards for postgraduate water education and continuing professional training.


By focusing on postgraduate degree programs, The Rotary Foundation is making a long-term investment in water and sanitation, helping equip students with the research, managerial, and technical skills they will need to solve domestic problems by thinking globally. Working with the institute is a particularly good investment for the Foundation: most of the institute’s students are from developing and emerging countries where the need is the greatest, and 87 percent of the program’s graduates are still active in the field a decade later.

Rotary Foundation packaged global grants support large, international projects with sustainable, high-impact outcomes in Rotary’s areas of focus. Because the initial work of finding a strategic partner and designing the general framework of the project has already been done, Rotarians can focus their talents and energies on the implementation.

One hundred Rotary districts are participating in the Future Vision pilot, a three-year test of the Foundation’s streamlined grant structure, which began 1 July 2010. All districts will begin using the model on 1 July 2013.

The Foundation has previously approved strategic partnerships with Mercy ShipsAga Khan University, and Oikocredit International.  Pilot clubs and districts interested in packaged global grants with UNESCO-IHE can find more information, which will be posted online soon.

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