Real Consultancy Experience in Turkey
MSc Students in Urban Environmental Management spent the first three weeks of May developing a coastal zone management plan for a mass tourism centre in southwestern Turkey. It was an opportunity for the 24 students from 14 different countries to be real consultants working on a project in a country which none of the students had visited before. During their one-week visit to Turkey, the students met with different stakeholders, and found it a valuable practical experience
The terms of reference were ambitious: in three weeks, develop an environmental management plan to meet the needs of a region's three-month tourist season that peaks for an absurdly short period of 15 days!! Bodrum peninsula, whose geographical features include mountains and long beaches extending into the Aegean Sea, has a permanent population of 20,000 which becomes overwhelmed by 500,000 people at the peak of the season. Besides the standard hotel developments for foreign tourists, many second homes are also being built by people from Ankara and Istanbul. These developments are moving so rapidly that the environmental impact of such an intensive season on aspects like local water supply and pollution from increased waste are not taken sufficiently into account, and conflicts in land use also arise
The students were divided into different groups according to their previous work experience. They had meetings and guided tours with officials from the national Urban Development Bank, the municipal government, as well as a local NGO
Joyce Ndesamburo from Tanzania found Bodrum a very peculiar place, not only because of its geographical features, but also because of the nature of its tourist season. In Tanzania, tourism is very different, it is more dispersed and spread throughout the year - people do not only go for beach holidays, but also for the national parks and mountains. Before coming to Holland to do an MSc, Ndesamburo worked for five years in her government's sustainable cities programme in Liquid Waste and Surface Water Management. In all those years, she had never encountered this kind of challenge before, as her team worked on finding solutions to the ground water contamination arising from inadequate infrastructure development. Building a sewerage treatment plant for the permanent population of Bodrum is one thing, but meeting the needs of the peak period is very complicated; for example, treatment plants will not work if they have to stand still in the winter months.
Rachel Allen, participating in the Sustainable Tourism Group, works in Jamaica as an environmental consultant in tourism development. Having a peak season was not so strange to her (except for its extreme nature), as her country also has an intensive period during the winter months of North America and Europe. But what did surprise her was the atmosphere: It's obvious it's new tourism - back home it's a lot older. The locals living and working in the high density tourist areas in northern Jamaica have become tired of tourists and there is not such an open and friendly atmosphere anymore, although in the quieter southern regions it is much better. But I did see the beginning signs of tourist fatigue in Bodrum as well. Clearly, tourism development needs to be much better planned, and the team provided suggestions on how to regulate activities throughout the year and to provide more diverse options like hiking, horse-back riding and visits to ruins in the region
This consultancy assignment comes in the second year of a two-year contract between the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), located in Rotterdam, and the Turkish Urban Development Bank, which provides loans for infrastructure planning throughout the country. The IHS and WAU jointly run the Urban Environmental Management MSc programme, the first international programme in its field in the world. Students spend about 65% of their time in Rotterdam and the rest in Wageningen to optimise on the different types of expertise in each place. The joint MSc programme was initiated by David Edelman who came from America five years ago to work at the IHS. Edelman had studied urban planning in New York, where students were given small projects to help neighbouring municipalities in their work
Although the participants found the consultancy to be a valuable addition to the MSc, pulling together what they had learnt from the courses, they were not so sure that their recommendations would be followed. Allen thinks that the local government and the local conservation NGO will take the recommendations seriously as they were very interested in the results, and, I hope that the Bank will at least take a look at it. Edelman stated that the government and local NGO in Bodrum were particularly happy to have the students come because the Bank does not tend to listen to them enough: The community could finally air their complaints to the Bank while the students were there. This tension was apparent almost immediately, as students in the sewerage group noticed that NGOs had not even been included and they had to make a special request before one of the local environmental groups was invited. A major constraint to the whole study was that there was not enough time to adequately investigate other NGOs who would have provided important information. Time was a constraint in other ways as well, as Allen found out: My only disappointment was that there wasn't enough time to take a Turkish bath!
New Exam Schedule for MSc Students
MSc students will have four opportunities for examination retakes during the 17 month programme. The new time schedule, which officially begins in January 1999, will include dates in January, as well as May and August during the MSc term. This was the main result of the first meeting of the FSC (Foreign Student Consultation) group which took place on May 15th. Mark Richmond (vice president of ISP and a member of this new group) was very pleased with the results, saying that he'd expected to have to struggle for such an extensive schedule. But the need for such a flexible schedule was well understood because of the fact that most MSc students leave during the summer months for a research term in another country and would miss the normal retakes held only in the month of August. The FSC group was set up in March in order to improve communication between international students and the Executive Board of the university on issues of international education
Small Fund Available
The Dean's office recently announced that MSc students can apply for a part of the fl. 5,000 it recently received from the municipal organisation Wageningen Kennis Stad. Proposals must be sent to the Dean Jeanine Hermans, with details on an extra activity relating to their MSc studies. Last year, a student was able to organise an extra study period in Israel from a similar fund. Acceptance will be based on a project proposal with a detailed budget, a high standard of academic achievement during present MSc studies, and a letter of reference from the Programme Director