We have resumed our face-to-face short-duration course program for 2020 with my course on EPANET. This is all happening while the Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the world. Read all about our experience.
We are now well under Covid-19 in Mozambique: the number of daily infections and deaths (see Figure below) continue to rise. The situation is worrying and it’s impossible to predict how the country will look in 3-6 months. Therefore, in the second trimester of 2020 we realized that our ambitious plan for the year would not be feasible and that there was too much uncertainty involved: in how the virus would behave in Mozambique, how would the Government of Mozambique react to the virus, and what could our role be in the process. Our initial decision was to put all activities on hold while the country was in lock-down, which lasted until August. From this decision we started drafting a Plan B.
Cumulative number of Covid-19 deaths in Mozambique. Source.
The Plan B
During lock-down face-to-face activities were not possible and we drafted a Plan B to be implemented after the end of the lock-down. This plan had as main guidelines:
- Less face-to-face short-duration courses, i.e. 6 instead of 10, with the ROs deciding which courses should take place
- The remaining courses running online, through Moodle
- Delay all Action Research and Gender-related activities
- Follow guidelines issues by WHO and the Government of Mozambique in all project activities
With this plan it was easy to jump start all activities once the lock-down ended in August.
Logistics under Covid
Especially important in this period is to adapt logistics as there are several other issues that our team must pay attention to. Since September classes resumed throughout the world and this includes Mozambique. With a few months of experiences and best-practices now available, we have done our utmost best to minimize the risk for lecturers, students and people we contact with. This includes:
- Less students per course, with a maximum of 15 students instead of the typical 20-25
- Well aerated classrooms, with all windows and doors open throughout the lectures
- Disposable N95 masks available for all participants
- All participants, students and lecturers, wear masks at all times, no exceptions
- Alcohol in gel is available for all participants
As I mentioned above I lectured EPANET at FEAF in Mocuba. Something that I noticed while walking around town was how low the Licungo was (featured image). Throughout the course I used part of the materials that I cover in my course on “Modelling of Water Distribution Systems” that I lectured in the last two editions of UEM’s MSc in Hydraulics. I really enjoy using and lecturing EPANET as it allows the user to model a water distribution network and to play, in real-time, with various components of a distribution network, such as pipe materials, diameters, pumps; study the impact of demand and demand patterns; and analyze water quality aspects such as water age and chlorination. All in all the students gave a very positive feedback about the course but, in general, argued that one week (40 hours) is insufficient to master the tool. I do agree and this is especially true for situations where the participants don’t have a background in (basic) hydraulics, which was the case.
The way forward
As I am writing this there are two courses running, one on Drinking Water Treatment on Moodle and a second of Management of Irrigation Systems, in Chimoio, lectured by Resiliência. Until the end of the year we still have several courses running both on Moodle and in person. Covid-19 has been a learning experience for everybody and we are no different, this pandemic really made us question our assumptions, change our approaches and adapt methodologies. I am happy to say that, it seems, that found a safe way forward.