Dr Inga Jacobs

Global president: International Water Association's Young Water Professionals programme

Short legs and growing up in a big family on the Cape Flats didn't stop Inga Jacobs. It just gave her the skills to run around obstacles. Though she describes herself as an "ordinary coloured girl� her educational achievements read like a round-the-world tour: study in Hong Kong, BA in America, an MA at Stellenbosch and a PhD at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. But even with a scholarship she had to work three jobs at a time to make ends meet. Jacobs's research on cooperative water governance shaped her future agenda: to push for shared water sources around the world. Her enthusiastic approach to water politics is now making a huge impact locally. As a result this "water missionary� was voted global president of the International Water Association's Young Water Professionals programme in 2010, a position that will, she believes, allow her to generate the kind of debate that will make a "real and positive difference to ordinary South Africans�. � Sipho McDermott

Twitter: @iwaywp