Enquiry-Based Learning in the Curricula of Master-Level Courses in the Water and Land Nexus (EBL-Nexus) Project
The current education practice in low- and middle-income countries is often teacher focused. It lacks the flexibility and tools which would empower students to explore multiple solutions and adapt their learning behavior to future complex and changing research problems. Such skills are indispensable for the requirements of the modern job market and for solving the often interrelated problems of water and food security.
Hence, the Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), in cooperation with three CNRD partners from Jordan (University of Jordan), Sudan (University of Khartoum), and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa University), were granted a DAAD-funded project which centered on enquiry-based learning in the curricula of master-level programs in the field of land and water management. This project, “Enquiry-Based Learning in the Curricula of Master-Level Courses in the Water and Land Nexus” (EBL-Nexus), was funded for a period of four years, starting from 2013, under the DAAD program, “Subject-related Partnerships with Institutions of Higher Education”.
The EBL-Nexus focused on the exchange of master-level students between participating universities. It also contributed to the development of the curricula of master-level programs of participating institutes by reviewing these programs and introducing elements of enquiry-based learning to the modules. Furthermore, it promoted the harmonization of master-level education between the partners by supporting the exchange of students and lecturers among the different universities.
Corresponding to the logic of the CNRD approach, the project centered its efforts on developing exemplary case-studies from the partner countries. Examples of the interactions of land-water use problems in Jordan (Azraq aquifer), Sudan (Gezira irrigation scheme), and Ethiopia (Gondar-Dembeia-Koladiba rain-fed scheme) were identified and used to develop case studies for enquiry-based learning in the master programs in resources management of the participating higher education institutions.
Water Security and Climate Extremes: Building big data into action (WaterSec): Pilot project for developing a water security toolbox in Ethiopia and Sudan
Climate change will lead to water scarcity and drought in many regions of the world, especially in arid and least developed countries in South Sahil and the Nile Basin. At the same time, increasing demand for water will often endanger water resource security and lead to conflicts over water allocation. In many countries, data on water availability, water use, and efficiency are often very poor, so that no adequate decisions can be made for short-term or strategic measures towards increased water security. However, the rapid development of remote sensing, data analysis, modelingcapabilities, andadvanced communication technologies offer tremendous opportunities to make a quantum leap in water resources management.
The pilot study area is the Dinder and Rahad River Basin, a transboundary basin located in the Blue Nile Basin in Ethiopia and Sudan. The WaterSec project aims to close the above-mentioned data and knowledge gap by developing and disseminating a scientifically based toolbox for the analysis and assessment of water resource security in data-poor regions. This includes achieving the followinggoals:
- Exploration and comparison of available public domain data on parameters of water availability, water demand, andland use.
- Use of data for modeling and analysis of climate variability, water balance (water accounting), and drought indicators.
- Further development of the analysis results for the creation of regional drought scenarios.
- Compilation and evaluation of adaptation strategies for droughts.
- Processing knowledge for users through innovative information technology and appropriate communication strategies.
- Exploitation of scientific results together with project partners and application in pilot regions.
Under the umbrella of the CNRD network, the Water Security Toolbox will be developed in close collaboration with local research partners in Ethiopia and Sudan, including the Universityof Khartoumand the Universityof Addis Ababa, and local stakeholders from public institutions, NGOs, as well as international development to achieve water security and economic development in that region. The results will later be disseminated to other data-scarce regions. The WaterSec project started in 2017, with a duration of three years, and is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.
WEF-Nexus Summer School at the ITT
The Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), in cooperation with CNRD partners, is hosting a four-week summer school for DAAD scholarship holders under the programme “Weiterbildungsprogramm für Stipendiaten des Sur-Place-/Drittlandprogramms” from 26 August to 20 September 2019 at the TH Köln, (University of Applied Sciences) in Cologne, Germany. The title of the programme is “From Data to Decision: Assessment of the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus”. In the scope of the internationally recognized Nexus debate, the program aims to improve the science-based decision-making capacities of young international academics (Master’s and PhD) towards a sustainable and integrated management of natural resources in the context of the WEF Security-Nexus. The course will be structured in three different steps towards an integrated understanding and management of the WEF Security Nexus: (i) understanding systems, (ii) quantification and modeling, and (iii) Nexus-related decision-making and understanding. Figure 1 illustrates the integrated approach of the WEF Security Nexus summer school concept.
The Data to Decision summer school will facilitate capacity building for future researchers and professionals in the cross-sectoral field of sustainable resources management, with a focus on quantification and modeling of the interconnections between water, energy, and food sectors, and on enhancing the ability to create information that is valuable to decision-makers. Furthermore, the program supports international connectivity by fostering the active exchange between junior and senior researchers taking into account experts from the CNRD network.
Developing Capacities in the Field of Monitoring and Assessment of Water Resources (CapWater)
CapWater was implemented by CNRD partners from 2013–16 with the overall goal of significantly contributing to the education of experts in the field of water resources sciences and management, especially in developing countries. To achieve this goal, the project focused on three specific areas within the framework of water resources management:
- Environmental monitoring
- Data management
- Environmental modeling
The partner universities were the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) in Hanoi, Vietnam; the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) in Niteroi, Brazil; and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development of the Independent University Bangladesh (ICCCAD-IUB) in Dhaka. Each partner contributed with knowledge and experience in their area of expertise including coastal zone management, community-based monitoring, and irrigation management to complete the following learning units:
- Introduction to monitoring (ITT)
- Water quality monitoring (ITT)
- Participatory water monitoring (ICCCAD-IUB)
- Riverflow monitoring (UFF/ITT)
- Hydrological modeling (ITT)
- Water resources information systems in irrigation (VAWR)
In the context of this project, learning units refer to didactic material developed to be used for master and training courses within the consortium. Each learning unit includes clear learning objectives which should be attained using slides to present basic concepts and explanations supported by visual media such as animations, educational movies, etc. Moreover, the unit includes reading material (e.g. journal articles, institutional reports, book chapters) as well as practical examples and exercises. Finally, questions at the end of the unit help student and tutor assess if the material was properly learned and the objectives were met.
As part of the project, a joint student project (JSP) took place in each partner university where students from each institution came together to analyze water-related challenges and problems and propose solutions based on the topics learned through the learning units.
Water Security in Jordan – from Data to Decision (WaterD2D)
The Water Security in Jordan – from data to decision is a consortium of higher education institutions promoting evidence based knowledge as an effective tool for decision making towards a water secure Jordan. Our mission is to rethink and redesign current and ongoing research concepts jointly with the stakeholders to co-create knowledge that is demanded by the society, in particular:
- To focus on research questions triggered by the needs of the decision makers and stakeholders in responding to current and potential societal challenges.
- To form innovation ecosystems channeling research results to social innovation processes and products with market potential.
- To create spaces for collaboration between scientists, policy makers and stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the diverse facets of water security and harmonize current and future research between academia and practice.
Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Water D2D project is a product of many years of cooperation with the German-Jordanian University and the University of Jordan – both CNRD members – as well as the Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management, Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Geological Sciences Hydrogeology Group and Technical University of Munich, Chair of Hydrology and River Basin Management.