Life as a Scientist in Mauritius (WIO-RISE)
Guest blog by Joseph Jean Maurice Ravina. Mr. Ravina, a native of Mauritius, earned his MSc from the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Dar es Salaam in November 2011 through WIO-RISE.
I am currently working for the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) as a Research Assistant. The MRC was set up in 1992 to promote and coordinate government investment in research. I am based on Rodrigues Island. The Rodrigues Office of the MRC was launched at Port Mathurin, Rodrigues Island, on 31st October 2011.
The objectives of the MRC Rodrigues office are to:
1. Address potential research gaps in Rodrigues
2. Act as a platform for technology transfer between Mauritius and Rodrigues
3. Promote capacity building in research and research-related sectors
Apart from my work for the MRC, I have recently initiated an NGO (Ter-Mer Rodriguez) by gathering several young professionals/graduates in the fields of agriculture, health and safety, environmental science, marine biology, marine sciences, statistics, biology, fisheries sciences, entrepreneurship, coastal engineering and social science. The rationale behind gathering the young Rodriguan professionals was to constitute a strong team that can think about and work toward sustainable development. The objectives of Ter-Mer Rodriguez are to:
1. conduct multidisciplinary research
2. promote education and awareness campaigns around the theme of sustainable development (sustainable Rodrigues Island)
3. foster capacity building
4. conduct projects aimed at promoting a Sustainable Rodrigues Island
Rodrigues Island accounts for about 108 square kilometers of land that is surrounded by coral reefs, making a 200 km lagoon. The main socio-economic and livelihood activities of Rodrigues involve agriculture, fishing, tourism and small and medium enterprises. Rodrigues Island aspires to become a model in sustainable development. In the face of the world economic crisis and climate change, a small island such as Rodrigues needs to adopt a model of socio-economic development and strategies that involve moving towards sustainable development. The mission of Ter-Mer Rodriguez is to work towards promoting a Sustainable Rodrigues Island.
A managing committee has been constituted, and I will be serving as the president of the organization for the next two years. The NGO is new, and we want to work towards becoming a key actor in the development of Rodrigues Island, becoming known and accepted locally and internationally so that we can better serve our island. While the NGO is awaiting legal status, the managing committee has already prioritized some projects that coincide with the theme Sustainable Rodrigues Island.
Also, I have recently been appointed as the Focal Point for Coral Reef Management under the Indian Ocean Commission/ ISLANDS Project of the Rodrigues Regional Government. The work consists of fostering best coral reef management practices. Through this initiative I have recently participated in a study tour in Queensland, Australia.
One of the main goals in my life is to be able to contribute to the development of my island. I intend to pursue my PhD studies without having to leave my island, as certain universities offer programs that allow students to conduct PhD research work in their home countries. I hope to study the management of marine and coastal resources, thus directly helping my island.