A passion for water

12 July 2016

Coff Brittany with colleagues in Zambia croppedGrowing up in South Australia at a time of water scarcity signalled the beginning of a passion for water resource management for 2012 Menzies Engineering Scholar Brittany Coff.

“I grew up in the Adelaide Hills on a property where we relied on rainwater to last through hot, dry summers. I remember dancing in the rain as a young child after a particularly dry summer, relieved that the rainwater tank would be filling up.”

“My childhood reinforced the link between humans and the environment – something which stuck with me and led me to focus on water resources engineering as a career. After completing my undergraduate degree I worked with drought and flood management as an engineering consultant in Australia. As I travelled more, I saw how the challenges associated with water are very different around the world and I became interested in water and sanitation issues in developing countries. That led me to the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at Cambridge University.”Coff Brittany working with a team in Nepal to develop a strategy for their WASH operations

After completing the MPhil, Brittany worked in Canada for two years with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies (CAWST) – an organisation that supports the start-up and scale-up of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in a range of developing countries, by providing technical training and consulting services.

“I have a keen interest in the global water challenges we are facing, and will face into the future. There are millions of people living in our global society without access to clean water and basic sanitation services. Additionally, with a growing population, changes to weather patterns due to climate change, catchment areas which cross international borders, and an interdependence between water, food and energy, I consider that water issues will only become more challenging over time.”

Coff Brittany at graduation at Cambridge“I believe that we have a responsibility to look at issues with a global perspective and outward looking view. Only by doing this will we be able to increase support for communities in the most need, more effectively tackle environmental issues that cross national borders, and increase innovation and collaboration.”

Brittany is now back in Australia and continuing to work as an advisor with CAWST’s research team. In August will start working with a consulting firm focusing on water resource management related to river and catchment management. With her career just beginning, Brittany is already striving to leave a legacy of leadership and positive change.

“My long term aim is to have inspired others to tackle and solve issues in the water resources field and to have been part of successful collaborations and solutions to water resources problems around the world.”

Brittany Coff received the 2012 Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Engineering which she used to complete an MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at Cambridge University.

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