Making water more accessible in the water scarce MENA region

Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes was part of the second batch of the YEP Programmes (2014-2015), working for SaafConsult B.V. from its offices in the Palestinian Territories and Jordan. Currently, she works at the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) as Project Manager. In the recent years, she has been mostly involved in projects concerning the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which includes Egypt, Palestinian Territories, Yemen, and the Gulf Region. She has organised webinars, missions, summer schools, and other activities that connect the Dutch water sector to challenges in this region. “The network I acquired during my time as a Young Expert in the Palestinian Territories and Jordan is very valuable in my job as a Project Manager. Knowing and understanding the people and the area is something that has helped me conduct my work on a daily basis.”

Sabrina tells...

“Shortage of water for agriculture, shortage of water supply to cities and diminishing groundwater reserves, cause tremendous stress to a region. As a water expert for NWP, I have worked with many organisations and businesses contributing to making water more accessible and using it in a more sustainable way in the water scarce MENA region. I have built relationships and enabled others to get the best out of themselves. We do this by connecting challenges – there are many in the MENA region – to the expertise of Dutch water sector organisations. That is really the core of my work and what I want to focus on and where I know I add value.

The best results are achieved when organisations from the Dutch water sector start collaborating with local organisations in combatting water related challenges and alleviating water stress in the region. The fact that I was able to support and contribute to the work of organisations such as World Waternet in the Palestian Territories, Mott MacDonald in Egypt and Nelen en Schuurmans in Oman, which all do an enormous amount of good in the region, is a feeling I'm proud of every day.

Many countries in the MENA region experience similar issues when it comes to water scarcity. A strong network of young professionals is crucial. The active sharing of knowledge and expertise within the network allows for problem solving in all areas. It takes an expert’s eye to see which specific challenges arise in local situations and to find the appropriate party with the right expertise to solve it. That is where I see that Young Experts fulfil an important role, local and Dutch working together. When I search for contributions and experience from the Dutch water sector in certain countries, I always consult the Young Expert Programmes' website to check if there if there is already a Young Expert working in the field and country where the expertise is needed. I still collaborate regularly with experts from my own batch. It is great to work together with so many bright minds, and in my view, they are the ones who add the most real and tangible value to water projects.”

New goals

This year, Sabrina’s focus has shifted more towards the Agri-food theme as she started a new role as Programme Manager for the Water for Food Programme. She is also working on setting up a new Dutch Saline Water & Food Systems Partnership with Netherlands Food Partnership.

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