A Holland Alumni Event organized by NUFFIC took place in Bogota, Colombia, on 24-25 November 2014. Ninety alumni of Dutch institutions from Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Brazil and Surinam attended, 30 of them from UNESCO-IHE. Also in attendance were representatives of Netherlands Alumni Associations, embassies, NESO officers and UNESCO-IHE.
During the two-day programme, the alumni learnt about the different kinds of alumni activities, how to launch an alumni association and organize successful events, as well as best practices to increase networking. On the final day, all alumni were committed to being good ambassadors, motivated to strength their groups or create new ones, and to develop new alumni activities to keep connected with each other and with the Netherlands.
During Holland Alumni Event, workshops on different topics were organized; UNESCO-IHE was responsible for the workshop on water. This workshop, attended by 28 alumni, was held on the topic of capacity development. Dr. Leonardo Alfonso, Lecturer in Hydroinformatics and Karen Navarro, MSc student at the Institute, gave the workshop.
During the workshop a global picture was created of how to tackle water problems and issues with water. Participants shared problems and best practices of the Latin American countries in attendance. One of the findings was that the model used in Brazil by the National Water Agency (ANA) is a stepping stone for governments and communities to monitor water management. Similar approaches in Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were also cited.
“The general conclusion of the workshop group was that water resources interplays government and community” wrote Kenneth Niekoop, one of the participants of the workshop. The de-politicization of water by governments, like having laws and regulations are challenges that come in the focus groups indicated as the basis for having clean water for generations in the world. However, the challenge is to address the relevant facts, and having a solid water plan. It is therefore very important that the focus is on having a Regional Capacity Development Strategy as is already present in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.
Dutch Minister Ploumen meets two UNESCO-IHE alumni
Dutch Minister H.E.L. Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, joined by companies from the Netherlands had a trade visit to Colombia during the same period. On Tuesday 25 November, Minister Ploumen met with four professionals that studied in the Netherlands. Two of these were the UNESCO-IHE alumni Ms. Carolina Ocampo Salgado and Mr. Arturo Restrepo Aristizabal.
During the business exchange dinner, our alumni highlighted the importance of UNESCO-IHE to Minister Ploumen. They compared their experience to an “ocean of knowledge with hundreds of feet of intercultural depth”. Our alumni added that the capacity development they were taught at UNESCO-IHE provided them the tools to face the challenges of a globalized world.
Ms. Ploumen posted on Facebook: “Maybe you know one of these people. They all studied in the Netherlands. All excited about their experiences in our country. In particular, our 'directness' and 'punctuality'. This is what our alumni, when asked, highlighted in the meeting about living in The Netherlands experience.”