Montevideo, Uruguay, 20 May 2022

Expanding knowledge for better sanitation services in Uruguay

Much can happen in 10 years. A decade ago, IHE Delft welcomed the first Uruguayan students sponsored by their government. Some of those alumni, together with IHE Delft experts, will inaugurate a new postgraduate programme in sanitation and sanitary engineering starting at the Technological University of Uruguay (UTEC). Programme graduates will be able to improve access to sustainable sanitation in Uruguay and across South America.

The programme, which starts 23 May, comprises 10 independent courses, a graduate professional diploma (GPDP) and a MSc programme. Students will be trained in areas such as sanitary engineering in the urban and peri-urban context, sustainable management of industrial and municipal effluents and urban drainage.

The partnership between Uruguay and IHE Delft started 10 years ago with a scholarship programme funded by the Uruguayan government. Since then, almost 40 Uruguayan water professionals graduated from IHE Delft with MSc and PhD degrees. Most of them returned to Uruguay and work in the water sector or academia, including at UTEC, which was founded in 2014.

The new UTEC programme aims to match the renowned IHE Delft MSc programme in sanitation, said Hector Garcia, IHE Delft Associate Professor of Wastewater and the Institute’s coordinator for the Uruguayan programme.

“We aim to expand the capacity of multi-disciplinary water professionals who are able to work in complex environmental and social contexts,” he said. “In addition to expanding access to sustainable sanitation, the programme will support Uruguay’s efforts to improve wastewater treatment by increasing the amount of wastewater that is treated, and strengthening the treatment processes so that resources can be recovered and used.” 

Maria Alejandra Szabo-Corbacho, IHE Delft MSc alumna, PhD candidate at IHE Delft, and an UTEC Associate Professor in Water Engineering and Sustainable Development, said she and the other teachers in the new programme plan to focus on real-life situations to encourage learning – as is done in Delft.  

“Back in 2012 I decided to pursue the MSc programme at IHE Delft, since such type of postgraduate education was not offered by that time in Uruguay. Now I am excited of being part of the faculty at UTEC launching for the first time ever the postgraduate program in Sanitation and Sanitary Engineering in my home country. The programme is very much needed; we need to build capacity to reach 100% coverage in the provision of water and sanitation, and also to adapt and incorporate the new tendencies and innovations in the field. Having such programs in Uruguay will tremendously increase the number of water professionals receiving post-graduate education," she said. 

Although Uruguay’s municipal and industrial sectors have begun to implement improvements regarding the quality and availability of water resources in the country, problems still persist. The country’s commitment to tackling these problems is reflected in the 2020 establishment of the Ministry of the Environment.

All sectors in Uruguay, and in particular the manufacturing sector, need to improve water and sanitation management to avoid continued deterioration of the quality of the country’s main water sources.

The new postgraduate programme in Uruguay aims to build a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable Uruguay through research and innovation.

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