01 April 2016

Faces of UNICEF: Batnasan Nyamsuren, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene officer at UNICEF Mongolia



Tell us a bit about your background?

I was born in Jargalant village of Arkhangai province in Mongolia. I studied hydrology at Odessa State Hydro-meteorological University in Ukraine. Before joining UNICEF, I have worked at Mongolian Academy of Science, World Wildlife Fund for Nature and UN Development Programme as researcher and program manager.  My area of expertise is Integrated River Basin Management and it has been very applicable to UNICEF’s work on improving access to and quality of water. For example, we recently supported adoption of “Water Safety Plan” in our program areas to help ensure water is safe for children to drink. This also involved development of guidelines on water, sanitation and hygiene  as well.

How would you describe your job to a 5-year-old?

We help children to have safe, clean water and sanitation at their home and school so that they can stay healthy and learn better. We also help make sure that parents and children know how to protect themselves from diseases such as by washing their hands.

Describe your average working day.

Each day is different but usually my average day is checking and replying to emails, working on papers and reports, and meeting with our partners. Occasionally, I would go to the field to monitor the progress of our projects, and meet the community people and children.

What are the most satisfying parts of your job?

The most satisfying part is when we see that children have access to clean water with the help of UNICEF built wells and sanitation facilities. Recently we also achieved a big goal, which was the approval of Norms and Requirements for WASH in Kindergartens, Schools and Dormitories. The document was adopted as a result of advocacy by UNICEF and our partners. This is a big step towards improving the WASH condition for Mongolian children.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Mongolia is a quite cold and sparsely populated country. Building wells and sanitation facilities in extreme cold weather, in a remote rural areas can be challenging sometimes in terms of cost. But every child needs clean water and sanitation to realize their rights and reach their full potential, so we work very hard to find the best ways to ensure that.

©UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Batnasan Nyamsuren

Can you describe a moment you have seen the impact of your work directly on a child?

Last year, I was in Bayanzurkh village of Khuvsgul province. I saw two little girls, who were drinking water out of their bottles at their school. As part of our hygiene promotion and healthy children campaign, we have been advocating students to have possibilities to drink at least one liter water every day. I was very happy to see that drinking water has become a habit for the children thanks to school management efforts.

How do you spend your free time?

When I was a child, our village had a river nearby, so in the winter my friends and I would go there and skate and play hockey. So I grew up loving winter sports. Nowadays, I like spending my free time skiing.

What advice would you give others who are seeking a similar job as yours?

Consistency is the key. Working in water sector can be difficult sometimes with challenging conditions, but it will help you gain the experience needed to work in international organization. So my advice is "don’t give up!"

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