To address the looming water crisis in the country, the Visayas State University (VSU) is proud to trailblaze the first and most comprehensive water education program among colleges and universities all over the Philippines with the approval of a two-year-long research project that will train faculty members and local researchers on water education.

In partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin prepared pioneering research on Capacity Development and Needs Assessment of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Field of Water Education under the International Continuing Education Program (ICPE) Grant which officially kicked off in December last year and will end in December 2022.

More than 19 million pesos was allocated by CHED to VSU for the implementation of this research project.

VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin expressed his thanks to CHED Chairperson J. Prospero E. De Vera III for his overwhelming support of VSU's core programs and projects.

“VSU will always be grateful to CHED Chair Popoy De Vera for opening a lot of wonderful opportunities for us especially in the areas of research and development. We see this endeavor as a way of solving some of our pressing problems in the water sector through science and technology. I’m also equally thankful to Atty. Lily Freida T. Macabangun-Milla, CHED Director for International Affairs because of her continued trust and confidence in us to pitch in for this very relevant project,” the VSU President said.

Developing a local pool of water resource experts

The project mainly aims to develop a local pool of multidisciplinary experts in the field of water education by providing comprehensive knowledge and technical understanding of water resource management.

With this, short courses on water education will be designed which shall be offered both online and face-to-face that can be taken either here in the Philippines or in the Netherlands.

IHE Delft Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world. This Dutch-based research institute carries out educational, research, and capacity development activities in the broad field of water management, environment, sanitation, and governance.

Aside from short courses on water education, personnel from selected Philippine HEIs who will be part of this pioneering project will also have the chance to visit international research centers engaged in water sector research.

From July to December this year, this project will conduct a conference and a series of localized workshops that will be attended by selected faculty members and researchers from the 10 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in Eastern Visayas. These activities will also be participated by representatives from various Local Government Units (LGUs) including selected universities and colleges outside of Region 8 that are currently doing water education activities such as water resources engineering, environmental management, and water governance, among others.

From this group of participants, 20 will be selected to be sent for a short study visit in IHE Delft in the Netherlands which is composed of 5 representatives each from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region (NCR).

Upon completion of their short study program in Europe, these 20 focal persons are expected to lead in the cascading of skills, knowledge, and best practices on water resources management to other SUCs, LGUs, and other related government sectors.

Addressing the Philippine water crisis through research

VSU is spearheading this project to primarily respond to the looming water accessibility crisis that may happen in the country due to increasing demand for this important resource brought by steady population growth, poor water governance, and the lack of optimal utilization of freshwater resources in the Philippines.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Philippines will reach 86.5 billion cubic meters in water demand due to domestic, agricultural, and industrial demand by 2025.

On top of that, nearly 5 million Filipinos still rely on unsafe water sources while 9 million of our population lack access to improved sanitation. This huge problem is expected to worsen because of climate change, which will potentially cause extended dry periods and unequal distribution of rain all throughout the country.

If successful, this research project will produce a pool of water education experts who can help in designing future policy interventions on proper water resource management including developing community-based strategies for water conservation.

This two-year research project will have a total budget of 19.25 million pesos, 6.4 million of which will be allocated for the conference, workshops, and short study visits to IHE Delft while around 10.4 million will be appropriated for the cascading of skills, knowledge, and best practices in water resources management to various SUCs, LGUs, and other participating HEIs.

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