From 11 to 15 December 2017 the first IHE Delft Alumni Refresher Course in Cuba took place in the cities of Varadero and Havana. The course on ‘Water resources management and climate change: balancing the extremes 'Food-Water Scarcity-Floods’’ was organized by IHE Delft, the Institute for the Research of the Food Industry in Cuba (IIIA) & Havana Technical University (CUJAE) with the financial support of Nuffic.
25 IHE Delft alumni from seven Latin American countries namely, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Peru and a few from the host organizations (CUJAE and IIIA) participated in the course. The course aimed to update the knowledge that alumni acquired in their original programmes at IHE Delft with leading-edge and recent developments and knowledge directly applied in the region on:
- FOOD via new and recent advances and methods on low-cost urban and peri-urban food security practices and technologies, involving cleaner production practices, aimed at resource and food recovery,
- WATER SCARCITY via innovative water and wastewater management practices such as reuse of treated wastewater for food production and the direct use of seawater for sanitation purposes, in an integrated and holistic manner in urban environments, to reduce freshwater consumption,
- FLOODING through the latest practices and advances on flood risk management and prevention to minimize damage, and
- Gender, with a talk about the empowerment of Cuban women in key sectors followed by a debate about the role of women in the different countries of the region.
During the first day, all alumni made presentations about their work, achievements and challenges in their countries. Lecturers from IHE Delft and partners organizations participated in delivering the refresher course, some of whom were also IHE Delft alumni, like Dr. Luis Cordova, Ms. Yeniseis Perez Fajardo and Dr. Orestes Gonzalez (who were also in charge of the local preparations for the course) and Dr. Carlos Lopez Vazquez and Dr. Arlex Sanchez Torres from IHE Delft.
During the lectures, discussions were held and time was created for networking among the participants. A field trip was organised to visit the Aquaculture system, REAL project, in Havana Province and the Malecon, coastal walk and protection from Havana city. All participants expressed a very high degree of satisfaction with the course and it created more appetite and requests for such courses in various parts of Latin America. The course also created a collaborative network among alumni, where future knowledge and information exchange is encouraged.
The event closed with an Alumni Gathering and dinner attended by H.E. Alexandra Valkenburg, Netherlands Ambassador in Havana, for participants of the course and IHE alumni living in Cuba.
´The main objective of these refresher courses is to expose former IHE students who have followed master's or short courses at the Institute, with new technologies, new practices and new methods to update them in the latest developments in the area. The fact of having carried out this course using results data of two projects financed by the European Union and the Government of the Netherlands in Cuba, has been the most valuable thing that we have of this course. Not only because we have shown different innovative applications in the area of water management, but they have also been carried out in Cuba in conditions that are quite similar to those of the participants have in their countries.´ Dr. Carlos Lopez Vazquez
´In Latin America, the need for a direct relationship between development and education is becoming increasingly evident. The integration of professionals from the region into the inexorable process of globalization and their ability to access the technology and information that is generated in the more developed countries is of vital importance in the construction of such a relationship. The Refresher Courses given by IHE Delft Institute for Water Education are precisely one of the most tangible tools for the construction of these development-education links. The courses generate not only the knowledge transfer scenarios much needed for continuous education, but also provide the perfect platforms for the exchange of experiences among professionals of the region which are dedicated to the water sector and its challenges.´ Mr. Mauricio Tapia (UNESCO-IHE alumnus from Bolivia)
'The Refresher Course has been a unique experience for me. We (all participants) shared our own knowledge, achievements and energies, I am thankful for that. I hope that this space we shared is the first of many and so continue enriching our processes and above all strengthen our friendship'. Mr. Carlos Cabrera (UNESCO-IHE alumnus from Ecuador)'The days lived at the Refresher Course in Cuba was the best to strengthen a friendship and professional relationship that will last. I feel proud of having been part of it. We Cubans are proud to be very hospitable and good hosts, it was a pleasure. The IHE Delft family will continue to grow. Thanks to our Alma Matter for giving us these satisfactions'. Mr. Aldo Luis Ramos (UNESCO-IHE alumnus from Cuba)