Short courses in 2019

Throughout 2019 we trained dozens of staff from the project Requesting Organizations in our short-duration course program and, as promised in the previous post, I am now taking the opportunity to discuss it in more detail.

The courses

Throughout 2019 we offered a total of 12 courses both in the Zambeze Valley and in Maputo. We also included a wide variety of lecturers:

  • Introduction to Hydraulics & Mastering Excel. Both courses were lectured by UEM as a preparation for the MSc programme in Hydraulics and Water Resources Management. These courses were a prerequisite from UEM to the second batch of MSc students to expand their background before starting the MSc program.
  • Python programming. This course was lectured by UEM to the students of the first edition of the MSc programme and it was a repetition of the course given in 2018. Python is a free programing suite that can greatly support the staff of Mozambican ROs.
  • Water quality; Hydrology; Geo-hydrology; Water and wastewater treatment; Integrated water resources management. These five courses were lectured by the Mozambican consultancy company Salomon and were designed as a solid foundation in IWRM-related topics.
  • Operation & maintenance of irrigation systems; Participatory management of water resources. Both courses were lectured by WUR and were designed as a hands-on learning experience in more agriculture-related topics of IWRM.
  • Planning and design of sanitation systems and technologies; Fecal sludge management. Both courses were lectured by Delft University of Technology through a cooperation with EAWAG . These materials argue that holistic approaches are needed for urban infrastructure planning.

A few aspects should be underlined:

  • The short duration courses leverages local expertise. At ZAMADZI we have, from the beginning, supported the approach of hiring local expertise to lecture part of the courses. The added value of this approach is threefold: the training materials are tailored for the context of Mozambique, we further support local experts and we save money that allows us to run more parallel activities.
  • The short duration courses make use of open-source and free software. Paid software has its place in the world and the quality relevance of software such as Matlab and ArcGIS, is undeniable. However, for academia there are plenty of free and/or open-source projects that can easily replace, and even out-perform, the paid counterparts, such as Python and QGIS. Also, one can argue that given the limited resources of a country like Mozambique, investing in paid software for public education institutions might not be the best approach.
  • The short duration courses support other project activities. The first two courses (Hydraulics and Excel) were designed as a preparatory stage for the students in the second edition of the MSc. The course in Python was designed to give the tools to students in the first edition of the MSc program to analyze data for their thesis work.

Lecturing at UEM

Although not part of the shot-duration courses, in addition to aforementioned courses we have also been lecturing at the Faculty of Engineering of UEM in the MSc program in Hydraulics and Water Resources. This has given us the opportunity to interact closely with our MSc students, both from the first edition and the second edition of the program. While Luuk Rietveld lectured Water and Wastewater treatment, Tanja de Boer lectured Hydrology and André Arsénio lectured Modelling of Water Distribution Systems.

The participants

In 2019 we had a total of 137 participants (103 unique participants) in the short course program of which 11 were women. This is an increase from 2018 when we had 79 participants (58 unique) of which 11 were women.

The feedback

We collected the feedback from the participants through Google Forms and processed the data afterwards. The feedback is given in the Figure below using boxplots.

The lower and upper hinges correspond to the first and third quartiles (the 25th and 75th percentiles).

(…)

The upper whisker extends from the hinge to the largest value no further than 1.5 * IQR from the hinge (where IQR is the inter-quartile range, or distance between the first and third quartiles). The lower whisker extends from the hinge to the smallest value at most 1.5 * IQR of the hinge. Data beyond the end of the whiskers are called “outlying” points and are plotted individually.


Feedback for the short-duration courses offered in 2019. Data is depicted as box plots with outliers represented as triangles.

It is clear that, overall, the feedback is positive. Regarding the logistics, attention should be paid to “Financial aspects” i.e. paying the per diems to all participants ahead of the course. Furthermore, some of the participants also indicated that workload (“Workload” in Figure) was too high and that there should be more practical activities (“Hands-on activities” in the Figure).

The way forward

The short-duration courses are one of the main focus of ZAMADZI and it receives a fair share of attention and budget. For 2020 we have a new list of courses with a few repetitions. In particular we are going to repeat Salomon’s and WUR’s courses: the content and teaching approach will be tweaked based on the feedback received from the participants and other participants will take the opportunity to participate. This means that more staff will be taught the content and the final materials will be further developed and adapter to the context of the Zambeze Valley.

This will be the project’s last year of activities but the materials developed will be made available to all ROs through each institution’s ICT infrastructure.

Leave a Reply