Forum user of the month (1): Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka! (Sept. 2013)

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Forum user of the month (1): Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka! (Sept. 2013)



Dear all,

This is the beginning of a series, where we will highlight a particular forum member about once every month or two.

Today we would like to give special recognition to a forum member who has enriched the forum with his excellent posts in the past:

His name is Julius Krischan Makowka
- he likes to be called Krischan or Kris.

Kris has made the most posts of all users so far (177), and has received 28 “Likes” for his posts. His posts are very detailed, to the point, easy to read and very, very helpful. We as the forum moderators are very impressed by his depth of knowledge in a range of technical topics; also, he even takes the time to respond to posts that may at first seem not so relevant or contain “only” basic questions of newcomers. By making the first reply to a new post, he often encourages others to reply, too, and a discussion develops. For all these posts and his commitment, we want to thank him very much! It is people like Julius who make the forum such a great place to be in.

Here is a link to his forum profile (visible only for logged-in users): forum.susana.org/forum/profile/userid-1472

Spot Kris in the photo here, showing him with his colleagues in Uganda (hint: he is from Germany):

The following are a series of interview-type questions that Kris kindly took the time to answer for us:

Part 1: About Kris as a person

You registered on 24 Jan 2012; can you remember what made you register for the forum and how you found out about it?

Yes, that was actually a quite reluctant switch from the watersanitationhygiene.org forum, which at the time became pretty much abandoned by the moderation team and shortly after overran by spam-bots.

I think it was you (Elisabeth von Muench) that also posted there from time to time, but since I was (and am) more of a "water-supply guy", a forum focused solely on sustainable sanitation seemed not too attractive to me back then. The friendly community and the lack of a more inclusive professional WASH exchange platform (those e-mail lists are really not the same) made me stick however.


What did you study?

Initially I was aiming at a research career in molecular biology, but over time and I guess due to my long time volunteer commitment with the German national disaster response as a technician for emergency water-supply I became more interested in these issues and humanitarian aid / international cooperation. So after finalizing my first master's degree in cell-biology I did a second one in water resources management at a very international institute, which seemed like the best entry point at that time.


What is your nationality (your name does not sound German?)?

Yes I get asked that quite often... coming from the melting-pot of the Ruhr-valley in Germany, my father's family has a pre-WW2 Polish immigration history and that got mixed with a very North-German "plattdeutsch" naming style by my mother's side, e.g. the first given-name (Julius) actually a sort of "family-remembrance-name" and the second (Krischan) being the "plattdeutsch" version of Christian and the actual given-name my family & friends have always called me by.
Here is East Africa I usually go by "Kris" to make it easier


What are your plans for your future career in the longer term?

As I guess many in this sector, I have become a bit disenchanted by the overall work in international cooperation. For now I am not quite sure what my longer term plans are, but I will probably either go back into humanitarian assistance as that is at least more practical or join (maybe start?) a "real" business doing work in developing countries... while I am quite skeptical of most of those recent "social business" and "business approach for sustainability" lip-services, it is probably the creation of jobs and economic development that really does the most tangible good.


What three things would you take to a remote island?

That's a bit cliché isn't it? Ah well, I am rather practical: A leatherman or Swiss army knife, a good ceramics water-filter and a solar-rechargeable flashlight. In addition I would smuggle in a few lighters.


What books or magazines can be found on your bedside table?

I am a bit of an Internet junkie, so I tend to read mostly stuff on the web (I am skipping all the TV junk though). Semi-recently I read David Graeber's "Debt, The First 5000 Years" however, which I consider one of the must-reads for anyone really.


What would you recommend to youngsters from countries in the global North who want to get involved in development work – how should they go about it?

This line of work is one where I feel it is quite difficult to start out in and there is a lot of (naive) competition that would (and does) work even for free. Don't get sucked into the endless unpaid "volunteer" or NGO home-office internship treadmill, which I know of by quite a few friends.

I did it the hard way, e.g. joined one of those jobs in a country really no-one wants to go to (in my case north-west Pakistan), which is a life-time experience and you (have to) learn quick. But overall I can't really recommend that either... at least don't expect to find a job in the "cool" places when starting out. The places you will end up might actually surprise you positively anyhow.

The easiest is probably aiming for a "boring" position like a financial administrator, which seem to be the most in demand lately anyways (It appears to me sometimes like we "technical minded people" get a bit marginalized, but maybe that is just me). Oh and learn an relatively uncommon language, maybe Russian, Hindi or Kiswahili (for your information: English is a given and Spanish isn't cutting it at all; paid jobs in Latin America have become very rare anyhow). At the very least try to get fluent in French if you are interested in working in Africa.

Greetings from Kampala,

Krischan Makowka

www.uwasnet.org and www.horizont3000.at/eastafrica



[Posted by Elisabeth and Hector]

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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  • MRonteltap
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

What a nice idea Elisabeth!!! (despite the slight resemblance to McDonalds' employee of the month :-) )

Kris, I fully agree with Elisabeth and presumably many other users with me: your input is highly valued!! Though I've never met you in person it's always a good sign to see your face popping up in the replies - you're like our ever present sounding board for ideas. Keep up the good work!!

Mariska
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  • secretariat
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

Here comes the promised Part 2:

Part 2: About Kris's work and his opinions about the forum

Where do you work now and what does your organization do? How is it funded?

I am currently working as a Technical Advisor for the Ugandan Water & Sanitation NGO Network ( www.uwasnet.org ) which is one of the strongest civil-society networks / umbrella organizations in all of Africa. My position is funded by the Austrian NGO HORIZONT3000 ( www.horizont3000.at/eastafrica/ ) until the end of 2014 and it actually marks my first entry into the pure development-cooperation sector (previously I worked in humanitarian assistance & WASH research in various countries).

Here is a picture of an impression from Uganda I feel somewhat relevant to the discussed topics. If you want to learn more about UWASNET's activities please have a look at our website: www.uwasnet.org



How have you benefited yourself from using the forum?

Besides it being an interesting place to exchange ideas with other development practitioners, I was recently able to link up with some interesting projects and people here in Kampala.


What is making you write on the forum - what do you expect by making posts?

Currently I am trying to promote our network a bit internationally, but I guess it is mostly my personal desire to have constructive discussions on WASH topics. I also like that SuSanA has somewhat recently become a good meeting point between academia and WASH practitioners, both regarding researchers and also students trying to enter the sector.


What don’t you like about the forum or about other forum users?

Beside the somewhat narrow thematic focus I mentioned previously, I dislike people posting about projects in a cut&paste style (or even someone else posting it for them) and then never really replying again.
I guess that mostly happens in the Gates Foundation RTTC part of the forum, but as I usually browse by "recent topics" and also find some of the projects quite interesting, this is somewhat annoying.


If you could change something about the forum, what would it be?

The forum by itself is actually pretty nice, I just think the overall idea could be extended into both a broader theme and also by including more social media / collaboration features, like being able to join groups and online webinar/meeting rooms, build in chat, collaborative text editing/wiki etc. But I guess that is probably a bit out of the scope of SuSanA and would also require a rather large technological change.


What is your advice to the forum moderators?

Nothing really... keep going with your friendly, hands-off style.


Which topics or categories on the forum do you feel most passionate about?

I am kind of indiscriminate in that regard, as I usually don't even notice the category when surfing in the "recent topics" view; but lately I have become (again) more interested in topics related to "public health", which is really the closest to my original studies as a cell-biologist.

Picture from one of our monitoring activities which shows the hygiene situation in one of the fishing villages at the shore of lake Victoria:




Greetings from Kampala,

Krischan Makowka

www.uwasnet.org and www.horizont3000.at/eastafrica



[Posted by Elisabeth and Hector]

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

This is a very interesting new series. The secretariat needs a pat on the back for this. I enjoyed reading details of Kris. I also enjoy the posts of Kris. Keep it up, Kris!

Smiles

F H Mughal

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  • NaomiRadke
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

Also a sign of appreciation from my side, Krischan!

It is always striking to read your posts.
Especially in the Gates Foundation RTTC section (Science and Technology) you often put a “practical remark” to scientific projects -interesting, relevant and enriching.

Cheers,
Naomi

// Naomi Radke
MSc Sustainable Development
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seecon international gmbh
society - economy - ecology - consulting
Basel, Switzerland

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check out the SSWM toolbox for info on sustainable sanitation and water management:
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  • dorothee.spuhler
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

Dear Krischan!
Thank you for being so active in knowledge sharing!
Through the discussions you launch with your questions/remarks, there is many experience coming up to this forum and finally made available for us all to support us in gaining more knowledge and experiences on sustainable sanitation!
Thank you and hope to read you as often in the future!
Dorothee

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  • christian.rieck
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Re: Forum user of the month: Special recognition for user Krischan Makowka!

Dear Kris,

congratulation also from my side for all your interesting posts that enrich the forum. I hope to read more from you in the future.

Cheers
Christian

GIZ Uganda
Reform of the Urban Water and Sanitation Sector (RUWASS)
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