Head of the Water Resources Planning Unit
|Thursday, 06 October 2011 07:51|
““Conversations” is a series of interviews with ENTRO staff shedding light on their respective projects and activities.
This issue’s “Conversations” features Dr. Yosif Ibrahim, Head of the Water Resources Planning Unit of ENTRO.
Q. To start our conversation, I would like to invite you tell me a bit about yourself. Which country you are from? Are you married? Do you have children? Which schools did you attend? What are your qualifications? Previous work experience?
A. My name is Yosif A. Ibrahim. I am, Sudanese, married with 3 kids (2 sons and daughter. As regards my education I hold a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering 1989, University of Khartoum; M.Sc. and a PhD in Water Resources Engineering, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
As regards my previous work experience, I started my career as Assistant Research Engineer at the Hydraulic Research Station in Wad Medani , Sudan in 1990. After completion of post graduate studies, I moved to the Republic of South Africa, where I worked as head of the Water Section in one of the Consultancy firms in Cape Town. During that period I participated in the National Reconstruction and Development Program of Post-Apartheid South Africa through the Community Water Supply and Sanitation Program. We did everything - from needs assessment, to business plan, to conceptual and final design, to selection of contractors and then monitoring implementation of water and sanitation schemes. If you asked me one thing in my professional career I'm proud of is this project, as it offered me opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, especially when it comes to previously marginalized communities in South Africa.
In 2000 I moved to the United States of America where I started work with one of the Consulting Firms in Vriginia (Baker Corp. Engineering). The firm is contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the Flood Insurance Program and Floodplain studies in four main regions of the United States. Through this engagement I have gained in depth experience in floodplain regulation and flood insurance program in the US. Still in the US, in July 2001, I joined the Fairfax County (Virginia State) Department of Public Work and Environmental Services as a Storm water Specialist. This position allowed me to have good experience in the Construction Industry in Northern Virginia and the design of Storm water management facilities. We worked together with Virginia State Department of Environmental Management in enforcing environmental regulation on land development industry in North Virginia. This include administering the floodplain regulation, Zoning Ordinance, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance, Wetland Ordinance and providing incentive for adopting best management practices in new developments. I have also been member in a number of technical committees and took part in preparing letters to Industry and drafting amendments and changes to the Fairfax county public facilities manual and regulation. I spent over six years working for Fairfax County.
In 2008 I moved to Khartoum, Sudan, where I joined the UNESCO Chair in Water Resources as a lecturer and researcher. I got involved in capacity building, research and networking in the region and also in consultancy services.
A. Working at ENTRO means a lot for me. When ENTRO announced the JMP-1 (Joint Multi-purpose Program- 1) I dreamed to be part of this historic process in Eastern Nile. As you know, the Nile is transboundary river basin with so many challenges and untapped potential for development. No single country or National office can manage to address the water recourses development and management challenges of the Nile. There is no way we can manage the resources of this basin without having a regional entity for cooperation. Being part of an emerging regional office, such as this one, means having better exposure and also the opportunity to observe the direct impact of what you do on daily basis for the benefits of our governance and the three EN countries.
Living and working in Addis is a pleasure where I feel I am at home. The people are extremely pleasant, even the physical environment. In Sudan, we are used to a saying of Ethiopia: “Greenish and watery land, a land of beautiful and smiling faces”. Addis has proven for me this imagery to be true and real!
Q. Now, let us come to your work. What is your unit entrusted with? What is the value addition the Unit, the Water Resources Planning Unit (WRPU), you are heading bringing to ENSAP cooperation?
A. The core functions of the WRPU are to support ENTRO in identifying new round of investment projects in the Eastern Nile (EN) and to establish an integrated knowledge management system for the EN. This includes capturing knowledge produced by different ENSAP projects and to create an environment and promote the culture of knowledge sharing within the organization. In addition, the unit is tasked with mainstreaming the knowledge products and sustaining the activities of the completed phases of the IDEN (Integrated Development of Eastern Nile) project such as the EN Flood preparedness and Early Warning Project and the EN Irrigation and Drainage Study. The EN Flood Season Monitoring, the Environment function, the Knowledge Management (KM) function including the Library and the EN Planning Model Project are now part of the Water Resources Planning Unit at ENTRO.
Let me illustrate the regional benefits, the value addition to use your phrase, we bring forth to the three countries. The value addition we bring forth from the flood season monitoring is to initiate a regional program to enable data sharing among the three countries and to set up a regional platform to address transboundary management of flood i.e. avoiding, if not mitigating flood disasters. The goal of the Eastern Nile Planning Project (ENPM) is establishing an agreed decision making tool of the three EN countries- Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan- for identification and evaluation of water resources investment projects in the EN. The value addition we bring from the environment function is to preserve the ecology and environment of the EN and to ensure that the investment project would not cause any harm or adverse impact though adopting best practices during project preparation and implementation. Establishing knowledge base and knowledge management system at ENTRO supports the integrated water Resources planning and Management functions which is one of the core functions behind ISP and NBI wide cooperation mechanism.
A. Knowledge or know how is one of the organization assets. Managing knowledge means managing the organization resources. This includes the explicit knowledge produced (those which you can keep in writing, maps, reports, project documents, etc.) which is easy to capture (store, update, retrieve, disseminate) and the tacit knowledge which is hard to manage as it is part of people’s mind and personal experiences. Here at ENTRO what we are trying to do in terms of explicit knowledge is to capture, integrate, consolidate and mainstream the data, information and knowledge produced from the different ENSAP project and to use and avail such knowledge for ENTRO future needs and to a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including the EN governments. In terms of tacit knowledge we are trying to promote the culture of knowledge sharing and experience and rather than allowing such knowledge being an attribute to a person working for ENTRO as an organization it become a property of the organization.
Q. What knowledge gap does your work fill? What is its significance?
A. Significant amount of data, information and knowledge were produced from the ENSAP project. This includes the JMP1 One system Inventory, the Cooperative Regional Assessments (CRA's) from watershed, irrigation and power trade Projects. However, these products are fragmented, dispersed in a number of reports and other products. There is a need for integrating them into one system. There is a need to establish project baseline information and geo-database. ENTRO senior staff, particularly the Regional Project Coordinators, are s associated with specific project and soon when these projects get completed and close, these staffs leave the organization together with his or (tacit) knowledge and experience gained during their entire stay. This, over long period, creates significant loss and knowledge attrition for the organization, especially for an emerging one like ENTRO. There is no adequate mechanism of capturing the tacit knowledge. Hence there is a need to have a KM strategy and action plan to promote knowledge sharing culture among experts within the same organization in ENTRO and experts supporting the organization from the EN region and international consultants/staff who support ENTRO in project preparation studies. These include the National Focal point i.e. those experts in each EN countries, Panel of experts and advisors for the different ENSAP projects. There is need to do more networking with other relevant institutions and organizations engaged in research activity and water resources networks within the Nile Basin. Examples include Nile Basin Capacity Building Network (NBCBN), Nile Friend, Cap-Net and IWMI East Africa, among others
A. Here I will be focusing on ENTRO as one of the NBI centers rather than the whole NBI. I think ENTRO with its current governance (ENSAPT) need to be further entrusted with advisory role to the three EN countries rather than being part of the hydro-political juggernaut of the NBI. I would prefer if ENTRO were a technical institution, not affected by the ups and downs associated with the hydro-politics in the EN. The current situation does not permit ENTRO realize its full potential in terms of making a difference on the core functions and mission of ENTRO.
Land degradation and productivity and soil loss in the upper watersheds will have impact on downstream countries. What happens upstream affects downstream, what happens downstream affects up-stream. It is all interconnected in a cause-effect relationship. That is why we say the Nile is one hydrologic unit. Notwithstanding in which segment gain is made, (e.g. water productivity, reduction of loss and waste), the entire system gains.. You cannot resolve the problems of the Nile without joint effort. That is why we need to build the relationship and insist on a transboundary approach to the management of this great River.
Q. How does your work contribute to motivate, better inform and awaken national policy makers to meet the challenges shared TB waters i.e. the Nile is posing to them? In other words, what is that you need for policy makers to internalize and respond to all the messages embedded in your findings (bulletins, trend prognosis on water quality, rainfall, the threat of climate change etc.)?
A. NBI including the Shared Vision Programs (SVP) have spent tremendous resources on building trust among the Nile Basin Riparian countries and I strongly believe we need more of that. We need to do more outreach and we need to work at different levels, not only with policy makers but we need to reach and deliver our message to the public. WE need to network with all stakeholders interested in the Nile. We need to have strong communication and get our message to the media more vigorously.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 06 October 2011 08:06|