Thijs Bongers, an intern at UIZ from HAS University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands


Hello, my name is Thijs Bongers, a former intern at UIZ in Berlin.
I worked on the project “Optimum land use (land cover) planning for enhancing water availability to sustain livelihood based ecosystem services.” In this project, I analyzed a broad variety of statistics- (regarding geomorphology, climate, general properties, etc.) and classified the land cover for each study area. Apart from this project, I also worked on a small project regarding geo-marketing.

After the internship, I was asked to answer the following questions regarding the main project of my internship:

1) Please describe briefly the process of the project and state the results of your project.

(1) First, I had assessed which- and how many GIS analyses could realistically be conducted, described and interpreted within the available time frame. (2) Secondly, the analyses were conducted and the results were shown in a broad variety of maps. (3) Then the methodology (of the analyses) was documented in great detail (in a step by step manner). (4) Finally, the documents and significant results were combined into a report, including the interpretation and conclusion of the results.

In general, the results showed a decrease of the agricultural area in the study areas (in a time frame from 1990 through 2015), which in turn results in an increase of open and closed forest. This, in turn, could have a positive effect on water balance (and this will be investigated in later stages of the whole project, which is running until February 2016).

2) Which ideas, goals and concept did the project include?

The main goal of the project was to get a better understanding of the land cover development in the study areas (which in turn could give a better understanding of its effects on the area’s water balance). The idea was; in order to help achieve this better understanding in development, the land cover in the study areas should be classified in multiple time periods, spanning over two and a half decades (with the documentation and interpretation of the results of course).

3) Which preparations did you make before starting to work on your project?

I had prepared a detailed work plan with all the ins and outs regarding the project (including a schedule).

4) Did any difficulties occur while you were working on the project?

Of course, during the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, work interaction with the UIZ team in Nepal came to a halt (the field research in the study areas was postponed as well, but all this was due to Mother Nature of course). I also had to (unexpectedly) delve into remote sensing, as some big tasks regarding the land cover classification were also added to my internship experience.

5) Please describe briefly your own opinion regarding the project and your new experiences. 

It definitely was a challenging project, and I came across several problems during the project. It is always best to expect and embrace these problems as they are mostly unavoidable, but most importantly, they are the best learning opportunities.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot during my internship and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to make themselves valuable to a dedicated team and is looking for a real challenge.