From Kenya to Thailand, It’s All about Environment

Mira Andersson Ovuka is a new Programme Officer of the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia (SENSA) in Bangkok working with environmental issues in the Southeast Asia region; Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and also part of China in Mekong River Basin.
With her educational background of Physical Geography, Mira has significant experiences in environmental issues. She did both her Master and PhD thesis on Physical Geography in the area of land degradation and sustainable development based on agriculture in Kenya, one of the third world nations located on the East coast of Africa.
“Physical Geography is the study of all that is related to the earth’s surface – for example climate change and land formation,” she explains.
“Actually I had plans to work in developing countries somewhere in the world after finishing my PhD thesis, but it didn’t work well in Africa. I thought my possibilities would be better if I had some work experience from Sweden so I decided to move back home to Göteborg,”
Here, Mira got the position as an environmental consultant at a company named EnviroPlanning in the year 2002, and she has been working with the company until now. Main job responsibility at EnviroPlanning emphasizes on projects and activities on urban environmental planning, but it was just in Sweden.
“And then I saw the position of programme officer at SENSA in November last year,”

Same Old Environmental Issues, Brand New Role to Play
Mira Andersson Ovuka got this position as programme officer of SENSA in January and started her work in mid of August this year.
“So far, I have been involved in the chemical safety and urban environmental issues in Southeast Asia,” she says.
SENSA supports both bilateral and multilateral organizations to initiate projects in the region by providing strategic advice to Sida’s offices and also by establishing links and networks between regional organizations and Swedish interests. Moreover, it also organizes workshops and functions as a think-tank of the environmental initiatives in the region.
“At the moment, we are working on the next year plan and participate in meetings within the region because SENSA’s role is to build network, not actually to work with a project. We initiate projects, then someone else will be dealing with it,” the new programme officer explains.
“We, SENSA, have been looking into chemical safety, urban environment and natural resource management. We are also currently working on the Greater Mekong River Project and environmental issues related to this. I am going to participate in a couple of meetings on natural resources in Laos by the end of this year.”

Bad Fame, Very Good Impression
“I have never been in Thailand before, not even on a summer holiday, but I had about one year to prepare myself for living in the capital city of Thailand. Everybody told us that Bangkok is full of traffic. It has a very bad pollution, so we thought it was  gonna be so….”
“But actually it’s exciting to be here in Bangkok and it’s not too bad as everyone said. The public transportation is good and convenience. The air quality is not too bad but we, as everyone, know it could be worse,” continues the new comer.
Foreigners who come to the Land of Smiles always appreciate the kind and friendly Thai people. This also happened with Mira Andersson and her family. She is here together with her husband Tomas and their four years old son Axel.
“We got a very good first impression with the helpful Thais when one of our luggages was lost at the airport on our first day in this country. We were in quite a bad situation at the time trying to find it, but airport staffs just helped us on that. They told us to wait for our lost luggage at the hotel, and it arrived back in our hands a few days later. We were very impressed with their help,” Mira recalls with an appreciative smile.
“Bangkok is a big city where you can find lot of things to do, if you want to go to the beach, just few hours driving from Bangkok heading to Pattaya to the east or even to Hua Hin in the south. Last week my family and I went to Pattaya for weekend, it was very nice,”
“So far, my four years old son Axel and husband Tomas enjoy being here. Axel goes to IPC International Kindergarten. Yesterday he came home with his first book, with his hand written. He is very proud of that,” 36 year-old mom shows the intelligibly love when mention about her son.
“I decided to be here for 1 year at the first contract, but I can prolong and it could be brought up to 3 years if everything here is going well for us.”

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