Young Experts

Michael Nelemans

Michael Nelemans

YEP period 2019 - 2021, batch 16

Young Expert at Wetlands International - Ethiopia

First position after YEP

Technical officer Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) at Wetlands International, Netherlands

YEP Role

For Wetlands International and Waternet I will work in Ethiopia, focusing mainly on their projects in the Central Rift Valley. This important agricultural and horticultural region for Ethiopia is currently overusing their water resources. The projects that I am involved with focus on three aspects to try and create a more sustainable future for the region:

  • Achieving higher water efficiency by current water users in the region. Many of the users in the region are not using their water resources efficiently. By improving the water use efficiency we hope to lower the total water usage in the region to a sustainable level. 
  • Catchment restoration in the upstream regions of the basement. By conserving or preserving the landscape in the upper catchment we can reduce the total amount of sediments reaching the lake. High amounts of sediments reaching the lake has negative consequences for the region, since a more shallow lake has a higher rate of evaporation.
  • Capacitating the regions Basin Development Authority/Office in order to fulfil its task as  water resource manager more effectively. One of the main tasks of this institution will also be to start handing out water permits and collect water tariffs to try and maintain the water use to a sustainable amount in the region.

I will be involved with all of these aspects, but will especially focus on institutionalising water resources and creating capacity within the relevant institutions and organisations. 

Click here for more information about my project.



  • Integrated Water Resource Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Water Governance
  • Irrigation & Agriculture
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Adaptable

Nationality: Dutch
Education: MSc International Land- and Water Management


Experience before YEP

Before YEP I have gained experience in three different international projects that involve(d) Dutch organisations and local partners:

  • In Pontianak (Indonesia) I worked for Oasen drinkwater to look into possibilities to construct a drinking water reservoir in the Jawi River (connected to the Kapuas River). The region experienced problems regarding high salinity levels in their drinking water during the dry season. The mayor of Pontianak asked the local PDAM (drinking water company) to look into the feasibility of constructing drinking water reservoirs, which I contributed to.
  • Close to Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) I did a water conflict analysis for Waterschap Hunze en Aa’s and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. Conflict happened between different stakeholders groups during the dry period, especially between farmers that paid contribution for the irrigation network and farmers that also illegally used this water. Getting insight into this conflict was the first step into creating understanding between the different water users. 
  • In Shijiazhaung (China) I looked into the possibilities of modelling nitrate concentrations in groundwater layers using already existing nitrogen balance models for Wageningen University and Research. Nitrogen pollution is a big issue throughout the world, especially in region with intensive agriculture and animal husbandry. Current models are becoming better and better at simulating what the consequences of this are for rivers and seas. I looked into a still relatively unknown area namely the groundwater layer, since high nitrate values in groundwater can be dangerous when used for drinking water. 
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Organisation: Wetlands International
Young Experts