Harriet Smailes - DelAgua Placement Blog

As part of DelAgua’s student placement partnership with the University of Bath, Harriet Smailes, a third-year student studying Politics with International Relations joined DelAgua for 6-months as a Market Development Analyst intern based in Kigali, Rwanda. 

She shares her experience below. 

“This opportunity has aligned perfectly with my academic interests and allowed me to apply the skills I have been learning throughout my degree by bridging the gap between my theoretical knowledge and skills and their real-world applications.  

My day-to-day tasks included working with other market development analysts to run bi-monthly policy briefs for the senior team, assisting with financial forecasts, and carrying out detailed research and analysis of registry data and policy technicalities.  

One notable highlight of my time at DelAgua was a presentation I made on the state of carbon markets in Asia, Africa, and South and Central America at the bi-annual senior management strategy meeting; an event which broadened my understanding of business intelligence in the realm of social enterprises.  

Detailed discussions of the technicalities of carbon accounting methodologies in the office has also privileged me with insight into an organisation at the forefront of the practical application of international climate treaties such as the Paris Agreement and Article 6. I have relished this challenge of staying abreast of such developments and policy changes within the carbon market, and it has undoubtedly improved my research skills and critical thinking.  

Being entrusted with these responsibilities has given me an understanding into government policy, the challenges and opportunities that working in a LDC presents, as well as a comprehension of carbon finance and its role in bridging development disparities in the region.  

I was also able to see the project benefits first-hand during trips to the field, where I interacted with the beneficiaries of DelAgua’s Live Well programme about the transformative impact it has had on their lives. These days in field taught me how carbon credits are generated from end-to-end and provided real insight into how the operational challenges of such a large-scale project are overcome in innovative ways.  

Beyond the office, I was also able to spend time exploring the amazing landscapes of Rwanda with friends and visiting neighbouring countries such as Uganda. A few highlights of these trips included visiting the Volcanoes National Park, where we were able to see the famous mountain gorillas up close, and hike to Mount Sabinyo’s summit, where it was possible to see towns in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo simultaneously

I also enjoyed exploring the vibrant art scene in Kigali, learning the basics of Kinyarwanda and Afrobeats dance, and getting involved in multiple sports such as tennis, boxing and horse riding during the week.  

Overall, my time living in Rwanda has been a tremendous learning experience. I have met a diverse range of people and forged connections that I will cherish, as well as witnessing first-hand the role of carbon finance in bridging global development gaps in East Africa.  

I am enormously grateful to DelAgua for providing me with this opportunity, which has not only equipped me well for a future career in development, but also provided me with a wealth of knowledge to take forward into my final year at university.” 

 Ruzirabwoba Regis, one of DelAgua’s Expansion Assistants, worked very closely with Harriet: “Working with Harriet has been an absolute pleasure. Her dedication to research and attention to detail is impressive. She provided valuable insights and recommendations that have helped us make informed decisions.  

Harriet is easy to get along with and fitted in very well with the team. We look forward to seeing all the great things she will continue to achieve.”