Science - March 23, 2006

Cake for irrigation group

Things are going well for the Irrigation and Water Engineering Group. They have recently acquired various projects, a reason for the Environmental Sciences Group to treat the irrigation group employees to cake on Tuesday 21 March.

The biggest project the group has been awarded is called Concertacion, which translates as ‘mutual effort’. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investing 2.5 million euros in the project. In the Andes region, Indian organisations, farmers organisations, universities and civil society organisations, grouped within platforms in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, will work together on academic research, action research and courses on participatory water management. ‘The idea behind it is to give marginal groups such as small farmers, Indians and women more say in the use of water for farming,’ tells Rutgerd Boelens of the Irrigation Group. About twenty people from the participating organisations will come to Wageningen to do a Master’s or PhD research. In addition, researchers in the Irrigation Group will undertake research with the participating parties, and there are several hundred grants available for training local people. The Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) in Amsterdam is also taking part in the project.

The Irrigation Group also recently got the green light from Nuffic, the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education, for two projects in the same region, worth a total of seven hundred thousand euros. The money will be used to provide university courses on water policy and also to strengthen the position of marginalised groups, tells Boelens. At the end of last year Nuffic put money into two projects in Benin, in which Bert Bruins is helping set up water faculties at the technical and agricultural universities of Cotonou. The group also has projects on integrated water management running in South Asia and Yemen. / JT

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