Hello, I am Maurits Dorlandt. I am studying the MSc programme Climate Studies and did my internship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Before I started studying at Wageningen University I did a bachelor in Environmental Sciences at the HAS Den Bosch University of agriculture and technology. During Climate Studies I discovered the many opportunities of Wageningen University to do a practical internship abroad and the necessity of obtaining this wonderful experience for my curriculum.
In the land of the Zulu's Africa's best University for Hydrologists was situated and this institute has connections worldwide with a wide range of research institutes concerning hydrology, soil and climate.
I worked in an interdisciplinary project that was set-up only recently to investigate the water balance in the Western Cape (around Cape Town). In this part of South Africa, tourism is a very important and growing sector with large economic importance. Urbanization is very high and therefore the urban water demand is growing significantly. Also, the agriculture sector is growing fast driven by the urgency to upscale business to be able to compete with the international market. The goal of this project was to investigate if the current water availability meets the demand. Also, the projection of future scenarios concerning climate change is taken into account since the predictions for this region are towards regimes with less precipitation.
The meaning of interdisciplinary here is that we worked with 2 other universities including Cape Town, which provided the climate data obtained from global circulation models (GCM's), and the University of the Freestate in Bloemfontein where the water deficits/excesses were recalculated in economic values.
Furthermore, I worked together with a student from Switzerland, setting up an agri-hydrological model called ACRU which is built and developed in South Africa.
Luckily I had a lot of time to check out the country and enjoys its wonderful scenes. I had the time to travel the country and I have to state that South Africa is a very diverse country with an enormous natural potential for growth and development and is well established in nature conservation. However, a lot of important work is left for climate scientists to be done. I can recommend the South African Universities which can provide excellent projects to do your internship or thesis in one of the many projects currently going on.