Alumnus Jelmer van Veen - MSc International Land and Water Management

My name is Jelmer van Veen and I graduated from the MSc. International Land and Water Management in 2015. My girlfriend (who also studied at the Wageningen University) and I are both working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a YEP Water trainee (YEP stands for Young Expert Programme). The YEP Programme was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Water Partnership aiming to assure the continued availability of international professionalism and expertise in the Dutch water sector. Through this programme, YEP offers young Dutch water professionals an opportunity to acquire professional experience abroad, and offers young local professionals an opportunity to take their first steps in an international work environment via Dutch organisations.

We are constructing 18 kms of sewage pipes in Addis. When the project is finished about 65% of the current population in Addis Ababa will be connected to the sewage network.


"In September 2015 I started my job in Addis Ababa. I am working for a Belgian contractor, Denys, who is in charge of constructing 18 km of sewage pipe through Addis for the Kaliti Sanitary Sewer Trunk Mains Rehabilitation and Expansion Project. The 24 million euro project is financed by the Worldbank and commissioned by the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority. The project is scheduled to be finished in 2017. Nowadays only 10% of households in Addis Ababa is connected to the sewage network. The waste water treatment plant in Kaliti is operating far beyond its design capacity of 7500 m3/day. As a result untreated sewage water overflows onto the streets and into the water courses, negatively affecting public health and the aesthetics of the city. During this project Denys will only install the main collectors; house connections will be made afterwards. When those are finished about 65% of the current population in Addis Ababa will be connected to the sewage network.

I am a site manager: I'm responsible for the day-to-day on site running of construction work. Several teams are active; some are laying pipes, others are working on tunnelling works under the existing ringroad, and another team is rehabilitating civil works that were demolished during excavation.  I'm working on safety and quality control of the works, the management of problems encountered on-site during the construction and I facilitate communication between all parties involved in the on-site development of the project. The working atmosphere is becoming more and more professionalised due to the extensive training and experience our workers get – it is cool to contribute to their development and training, besides being able to contribute to improved sanitation in Addis!

Even though my study International Land and Water Management didn’t provide me with a very technical background, I have no problems with overseeing the technical aspects required for the proper execution of my job. On the contrary; I realize more and more that the real difficulties lie within getting stakeholders together and making sound plans that fit everyone’s needs and possibilities. This is something for which International Land and Water Management has prepared me thoroughly and I use these skills on a daily basis, both in my work as in my private time!"