Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

I would like to submit my application

Interview with Sarah Haesaert

Sarah Haesaert conducted her Master’s thesis in the DR Congo, studying the identification, use and socio-economic importance of wild edible plants among the Turumbu people. She now studies the role of urbanization and industrialization in river pollution in Vietnam. In this new project, she tries to identify the sources of pollution and she hopes to find efficient systems that could purify polluted water.
Here, she tells us more about the opportunities that the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has given her.


On March 24th 2010 you won the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation. Which were the first steps you took to develop your project?

For my specialisation studies, I had to make a thesis, which I planned to do in Belgium. After winning the Prize however, I could use a credit line for making this thesis abroad. I therefore contacted my promoter to discuss possibilities to do my thesis research in a developing country.

You received a credit line of 5000€. Which concrete activities have you undertaken with this budget?

With this credit line I was able to finance my study fees (environmental coordination and teacher’s degree).
Furthermore, I went to Vietnam for my thesis and, together with the University of Hanoi, we worked on a project regarding water treatment. I used the credit line to finance these costs.

What will be the next steps to realise your project?

First, I’ll write my thesis with the results of my research in Vietnam.
I also realised that language is a very important issue, especially in order to discuss with local people and to write scientific papers. Since I really would like to continue working in developing countries, I will learn Spanish and maintain my French and English by following courses.

Has your participation in the Prize strengthened your link with the Belgian Development Cooperation?


Do you think this Prize can have a long-term influence on your scientific career?

Yes. It gave me the possibility to continue working in development cooperation. I could extend my working experience in developing countries. I also have more experience now
in other topics such as water treatment. This experience and knowledge is a very important factor for a future scientific career, both at the university as in private companies.

May we ask you to give a short description of your project?

As there were some organizational problems at the research location, after consultation with my promoter, the original subject of my thesis had to be redirected at various moments. Being flexible is a must, if you want to do research in developing countries…
For the moment, I do not have any clear formulation and results as yet, as I will still be busy writing for a long time…

In Vietnam most of the rivers are threatened as a consequence of the rapid socio- economic developments in the past few decades; a lot of rivers are perturbed by urbanization and industrialization. Vietnam is the second largest rice producer in the world, and has adopted the system of intensive agriculture. For this purpose, enormous amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are used, which also end up in the water. The protection of good quality freshwater supplies has become an important social theme.

Research has been done in North Vietnam; the research issues are:

- What are the main causes/sources of water pollution?
- Which systems for direct and indirect water pollution are being applied in North Vietnam?
- Which systems could still bear potential in North Vietnam?
- Is there a link between the appearance of malaria and water quality?
• If so, which measures can be taken to push back malaria (buffer zones,…?)?
- Case study: rice terraces, installation of wetland underneath the terraces
• Which end quality of the water is advisable?
• Which are the parameters for installing a wetland?
• How big should a wetland be to comply with these specific parameters?