Latest WaterFront features SJWP and WaterTank alumni 2017 Krtin Nithiyanandam

By Krtin Nithiyanandam
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Despite having participated in numerous science fairs, the
Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) remains one of my most
memorable experiences. With one clear goal in mind – to identify
student innovation within water research – the SJWP enhances
a common interest present within each of the finalists and
provides an opportunity for students to showcase their water
research to an active and interested global community.

My passion for water-research stems from my desire to be
able to advance global health. I believe that democratizing
access to basic humanitarian resources, such as water, will
allow humanity to combat disease, famine and malnutrition.
I see sustainable, and accessible, water-purification as a
means of accomplishing this goal and it was this realization
that inspired my entry to the SJWP – which was a cellulose-based
bioplastic capable of cheaply removing several water pollutants.

It wasn’t unreasonable to anticipate an aura of pure academia
from an event revolving around Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics (STEM) research. However, with finalists
from over 30 countries, our conversations ranged from pop
culture to cultural etiquette. When I first met my South African
roommate and his teachers, I was quickly introduced to their
traditional greetings, and Noah from Israel confirmed my belief
that the quintessentially British band Oasis were globally
adored! Our visit to Old Town together also gave us the opportunity
to discover the rich history of Sweden, ranging from the
formation of the iconic ABBA to the awarding of Nobel Prizes.

The SJWP international jury was comprised of experts from
all areas of water research, from civil engineering to science
communication. Their intuitiveness and ability to constructively
scrutinize our research from professional perspectives
was particularly outstanding; the international jury rapidly
picked up on the intricate details mentioned in our oral
presentations and ascertained their applications. For example,
Professor Yoshihisa Shimizu explored the potential use of my
water-purifying bioplastic to clear the radioactive water pollutants
around the Fukushima coast in his native Japan, and
Ms. Fabienne Bertrand was particularly interested how my
research was socially sustainable so it could be effectively implemented
in countries like Haiti, where she is predominantly

Although a competition with a singular focus on water,
the SJWP encourages projects spanning several disciplines,
from bio-engineering to social policy; I hadn’t realised how
diverse a field water-research truly was.

We were fortunate enough to attend some of the World Water
Week seminars, during which we heard world leaders andwater advocates describe their unparalleled work in democratizing
water access and ensuring water security for future
generations. A particularly insightful presentation was that by
Professor Stephen McCaffrey: he highlighted how water was a
powerful resource that had implications from political diplomacy
to advancing global public health. Professor McCaffrey
described his inspirational role in consolidating the Cooperative
Framework Agreement between the Nile riparian states, thus
opening numerous possibilities for sustainable socio-economic
development – all thanks to the fair partitioning of vital water
resources in the Nile Basin.

The week in Stockholm certainly motivated me to further
pursue my water research in the endeavour of addressing
public health. However, the week also introduced me to new
perspectives on how water acts as a socio-political resource
of international proportions. The SJWP was special in that it
cultivated an atmosphere of collaboration instead of competition,
and has gifted me with lifelong friends from a diverse,
international community, with whom I hope I will someday be
able to collaborate with to solve some of the world’s greatest
water challenges.

Krtin Nithiyanandam is a 17-year-old student from London (UK)
who is currently studying mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics
at A-Level. Outside of the classroom, he loves playing squash and
engaging with global health policy by exploring bio-engineering and
water-related research