Growing up on his family’s farm in Lusaka, Zambia, Muyatwa Sitali understood the power of water in his own life. His father grew corn, cabbage, and other crops, all of which depended on rainfall and irrigation. A Rotary Peace Fellow, Muyatwa is a professional in water and sanitation working for a global partnership hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund. Learn in Episode 6 of the Season 2 of The Social Change Career Podcast how Sitali went from farm boy to an international consultant. Episode 6 of Season 2 is brought to you by The Rotary Peace Fellowship.
Listen to Sitali here
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In this episode we discuss:
- Muyatwa in the early 1980s in Palabana in Lusaka, Zambia. His father, a farmer, and his mother a teacher walked with Muyatwa and his siblings 4 kms each way to school
- Muyatwa credits his parent’s support on his education to compensate for school problems
- Muyatwa tells the story of the difficulties of farming (accessing markets, pricing variability, storage issues, integrated water resource management) which was the basis of what he learned later on in school
- How Muyatwa chose Forestry for his college undergraduate degree
- Muyatwa explains the divide between Agriculture versus Forestry and how he found ways to reconcile both fields
- Muyatwa’s experience in his senior year in a refugee camp to explore issues of conservation and sustainability which he attributes to his early roots in his interest in peace and conflict studies that culminated with his fellowship at Rotary
- How Muyatwa lost his mother in 1995 and his father sold the farm
- By the time Muyatwa started college he had little connection to farming and why he chose Forestry
- Muyatwa’s difficult road to finding his first job (note taker in a workshop)
- How he transitioned to his first job at Jubilee Zambia for debt cancellation
- From note-taker to project coordinator at Jubilee Zambia in 2 years and 8 months
- The tension between doing everything (from note taking to envelopes) and being perceived as NOT strategic
- Muyatwa’s first trip to post-conflict Rwanda
- Muyatwa’s take on the power of networking as a key to how he got his first job outside Zambia in Liberia
- In Liberia, Muyatwa was working on water and sanitation
- How Muyatwa heard on the Rotary Peace Fellowship to attend a Masters Degree
- After two years, Muyatwa got the courage to apply and he got the scholarship to do a Masters in International Development at Duke University
- How his Masters gave him strong networks, introduction of Development issues and a framework to better understand his work ahead and to reflect back on his earlier years
- Muyatwa is now reflecting on what are the main development challenges for the future i.e. (security, food security, climate change) and the role of young people in it
- Muyatwa’s professional future in the next 5 years and why he doesn’t want to only do Water and Sanitation
- The challenges of hyper-specialization versus the ability to adapt and collaborate cross-field
- Muyatwa admiration for the field of Negotiation and Mediation
- Muyatwa’s advice on getting jobs and consultancies at the U.N. and the World Bank
- How he kept connections from years past and got his first contract as a student to work on water on sanitation in Liberia.
- At the World Bank, Muyatwa did water and sanitation in fragile states.
- The “field” advantage of being from the Global South and how the big organizations are looking for in-country consultants
- How do you identify when the right opportunity comes across
- Muyatwa in the next 5-10 years professionally
- Muyatwa’s best career advice he has received
- Muyatwa’s take on failure
- Muyatwa’s three things to pursue a career of impact
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