Kirsten Anderer says she likes her work because she likes to help people. This is the reason that Anderer came to Bulgaria – to share her knowledge and expertise.
She is an environmental engineer from Washington, D.C., who arrived here a week ago. At home she works on a grant program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve drinking water infrastructure in the United States. Here she is helping the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria prepare Bulgarian cities and towns to anticipate and respond to flooding and other natural disasters.
Anderer is part of a Science Fellow program that allows experts working in various scientific fields from across the federal government to share their expertise with other countries. She has experience working on projects to improve the resiliency of local water systems to extreme water events, comprehensive planning for water and waste water systems, and conducting vulnerability assessments for municipal water treatment and distribution systems.
Here, like in the United States, one of the problems in the field is getting money. So, Anderer is also sharing what she knows about ways to obtain and distribute funds – both to prevent and to cover damages.
She has been here for one week and has five more to go. The engineer from Washington, D.C., already met with people from the Municipality of Veliko Tarnovo and discussed ways to assist them. During her stay, she will also meet with officials from Mizija, Kurdjali, Dimitrovgrad and Sofia.
At the end of her visit, Anderer will report her recommendations to the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and other municipal, regional, and national leaders working in the field of watershed management and disaster response. The long-term goal that Anderer and the Bulgarian municipality representatives taking part in the project are hoping for is to make funding more transparent and to do risk assessments and funding to prevent rather than react to disasters.
Anderer is the first Science Fellow to work in Bulgaria and we, at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, hope she is one of many Science Fellows who visit Bulgaria in the future.