Please tell us about yourself

Neha Mungekar comes from Mumbai, India. She did her Bachelor degree in architecture and completed her first Master’s in urban design. After this, Neha did a lot of courses and summer schools in urban planning, policy analysis and water education. Neha worked for seven years as an urban planner and designer, and she is also an environmental photo journalist. At her work, she realized that there are a lot of environmental issues that people need to understand. That is why she is publishing stories and photos in various newspapers and on journalists’ platforms.

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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

Neha heard about IHE Delft through participants from a summer school. The summer school was about water and society. A lot of participants knew IHE Delft and its professors. The lecturer from the summer school motivated Neha to study at IHE Delft, because Neha is an urban designer and planner. In India, there is a gap between academic research and its implementation. Neha wants to be a connecter between the government (regulator), the local participants and the ongoing research (science). If Neha understands the scientific background better, she thinks that she can do her work more easily.

How was the experience at IHE Delft?

‘’Other institutes have hydrology related courses, so they want people with a pure science background. There are no courses about water governance and management (together). IHE Delft is the only institution in the world that gives a platform for people with different backgrounds. In my class there are economists and biologists, social workers and political scientists as well.’’

‘’Other benefits are that IHE Delft is a mixed school and especially in water governance. For example, the lecturers talk for ten minutes and for twenty minutes the participants are sharing their experiences from different parts of the world. So, it’s like I am having a journey around the world. The mix of students that IHE Delft has is much richer than any other school.

About problems in her home country regarding to water: ‘’ In India there is a stratified way of governance. A planner will do only planning, a hydrologist will only do hydrology. This has the effect that the sectors do not communicate with each other. There is not an overarching umbrella. I want to bridge these gaps.’’

‘’I like the mixed exams; oral and written exams. The professors and lecturers are working on projects – they are showing real issues that are happening right now.’’

What are your future plans?

Neha wants to apply her knowledge globally. ‘’I feel that water sciences cannot be country specific, but planet specific.’’ Neha wishes to work in different countries and apply what she has learned to her country later, after she has gained more experience. Her goal is to be the first example of an interdisciplinary expert, to prove that you can be an architect, journalist and water governance expert at the same time. She also wants to apply her knowledge in innovative ways.’’

On life in Delft and the Netherlands: ‘’I like to cycle in Delft, I feel the ‘feel good’ factor in the city. It is amazing to live here. It is pleasant to see the canals and houses. It is easy for me to travel alone, because of the transportation system. I live in Mina, and it is lovely to live there. Everyone comes to Mina for group study.’’