Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:05 PM
ENHANCING CAPACITY FOR HYDROLOGIC SCIENCE FROM NORTH AFRICA TO SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE BOOST INITIATIVE
Inadequate access to clean water and sanitation is a problem across North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. In the Middle East and North Africa, absolute water scarcity is a primary problem, whereas water pollution is a greater concern in Southeast Asia. Another regional challenge is inadequate higher education, including lack of research productivity, lack of opportunity for university graduates, and a mismatch between university activities and societal needs. With the support of the U.S. State Department, we have initiated a project (Building Opportunity Out of Science and Technology [BOOST]) combining technical and professional skills training for graduate students in hydrologic science from four countries. The first cohort, six students each from Morocco and Egypt, began in spring 2012. The second cohort (seven students from Turkey and ten from Indonesia) started in spring 2013. The Moroccans and four Egyptians are geologists, the Turkish participants are geological engineers, and the Indonesians are primarily in other fields of engineering (civil and environmental, agricultural, and water resources). There are also students from soil science and geography. At least half of each cohort is female.
The program for each cohort is broadly similar. The first stage is a 2-month long-distance course in GIS, remote sensing, and hydrologic modeling, followed by a week-long workshop at the University of Georgia. During the summer, each cohort has participated in a week of field activities, including stream-flow gauging, measurement of hydraulic heads in wells, and monitoring of water-quality parameters (e.g., temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, and alkalinity) in surface and ground waters. Results are discussed with reference to landscape position, lithology, and land use. The third stage is a 3-month long-distance course in research ethics, communication, and professional opportunities, culminating in poster presentations at a major geosciences meeting. Finally, each participant is expected to engage in at least 40 hours of outreach activities, such as peer mentoring or working with local schools. Our ultimate goal is to develop a repository of on-line resources and network of BOOST alumni which will sustain the program in multiple countries and provide guidance to future participants.