My MRP journey
ISNAD-Africa is composed of bright, talented young minds- some volunteers, and some, mentees under the Mentorship for Research Programme (MRP). In the MRP, young researchers conducting studies related in one way or the other to the thematic areas of the organisation are matched with mentors for guidance and direction in their research. Mentees are also exposed to a number of opportunities for further studies, such as the CIPSEM programme.
One mentee, Faith Muniale, who recently participated in a CIPSEM course shares her experience with the course. As a bonus, she gives some insight into life as a mentee with ISNAD-Africa and some surprising facts about herself!
My name is Faith Milkah Wakonyo Muniale, and I’m from Kenya. I’m a PhD Candidate at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya, taking PhD in Environmental Science focusing research on conservation agriculture and the ecosystem services it provides. i.e., a relatively new agricultural approach that helps to reduce impact of climate change on food production, conserves water, rehabilitates the soil, and enhances soil biodiversity. My other research interests are in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
ISNAD-Africa MRP and being a mentee
I had just started my sandwich program at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania when my host professor forwarded to me an email calling for applications for the mentorship program. I had never heard of ISNAD-Africa prior to that, but I developed instant interest and submitted my application for MRP.
After submission of the application, it was not long before I received an email with further instructions including attending three Webinars. I attended all three – those webinars have remained my highlight in this program. I also submitted information about my research interest and abstract, before MRP allocated me a mentor. Soon after, I began my mentee journey.
The journey so far
I was very excited when I started the mentor-mentee journey at ISNAD-Africa. My mentor is extremely experienced in my research interest, ISNAD/MRP did an incredible job at the matching of mentees and mentors. The introduction was very formal and special. I sincerely looked forward to an exciting journey. Even though the mentorship program was run online, it was well managed with proper monitoring from ISNAD-Africa. When we managed to schedule our first meeting, my mentor was very resourceful, a lot of things that we discussed on that first meeting were applicable till the end of my research project. I got very relevant advice. Unfortunately, at the initial stage, my mentor was not able to participate as often as we thought. After more than a year without communication between us, recently we reconnected. Despite that unexpected challenge, the organization remained very close and supportive.
My course at CIPSEM
I had not heard of CIPSEM short courses until ISNAD-Africa shared about it. I decided to go for one of them which interested me; the SC80 Integrated Water Resources Management course.
The course covered literally everything about water resources. There was also a case study based on local water issues from the different geographic area represented. Participants worked on case studies through the course by applying the knowledge acquired through the various models to design a solution to the local water problem of focus. I worked on a case study based on the flooding observed recently in Lake Nakuru National Park, and there was personalised coaching through it. Besides the water technical areas trained, there was a module covering generally on intercultural community interaction including communication, it was very helpful.
The course was worth every effort
The course was delivered entirely virtually since the participants could not travel to Dresden due to pandemic restrictions. My cohort was the first ever to take the course entirely online. As such there were opportunities to learn what works well and what does not. Taking online classes consistently for one month took a lot of commitment. With a group from many different time zones, we had few live sessions and programmed self-study time. The online platform used was very interesting, it showed deadlines for assignments, and recorded completed assignments. We were given many assignments and there were general discussions where participants and faculty would exchange ideas. In general, the technical bit of the course was very empowering for my career. Every module and topic covered was relevant and applicable to water sector in Kenya. The course was worth every effort.
Despite the broad content of the course, CIPSEM organised it very well, such that there was no undue pressure in the course of the training and case study development. I had amazing classmates from 19 different countries, they were all experienced professionals in the water sector and therefore we made very rich discussions for sharing with one another. On the colourful closing event, my classmates choose me to deliver a speech on their behalf. It was an honour to be the one speaking, but I managed to put together a speech and deliver it.
I would gladly recommend this course to all practitioners in water sector because it is a well-designed refresher course. It covers all topics in water resources management, uses very modern technology, facilitates very high-level exchange of knowledge from different countries.
Things many people don’t know about me
I am a 75% Sanguine and 25% Choleric. I don’t know whether I am a natural leader, but I sure love a bright side of everything.
Bonus: If I could take only 3 things with me to an island, I’ll take:
- Science fictions movies – I love them but hardly get the time to watch.
- My note book – I would record every experience and observation.
- My Bible – makes my daily read