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International course on water issues and water management in the Philippines

Vak 2011-2012

Course description

The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSW) and the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) of Leiden University, in cooperation with Isabela State University and the Mabuwaya Foundation in the Philippines is organizing an international, interdisciplinary course on water issues and water management in the Cagayan River basin in NE Luzon in the Philippines in January 2012. The focus of the course is on the utilization and importance of fresh water, water scarcity and super abundance, climate change and water, water and biodiversity conservation, conflicts over water and the role of communities and government in water management. The objective of the course is to gain experience with working in an international, interdisciplinary team on a problem-oriented research assignment. Apart from gaining knowledge about water issues and water management in a developing country, students will learn practical fieldwork skills and the application of research methods and techniques.

Theme: Safeguarding Water Resources and the Role of Community Management

Water is one of the most critical resources currently under threat world-wide. Developing countries in particular face complex challenges as the needs for drinking water, irrigation water and hydroelectricity grow rapidly. Water becomes increasingly scarce while its quality declines. Climate change leads to greater risks associated with floods and droughts. However, the rapidly developing global effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change increasingly offers funding mechanisms towards sustainable conservation of watersheds and water sources in developing countries.
Water supports a great variety of resources, functions and services, and in order to safeguard these for the future, sustainable management is essential yet not adequately practiced. The formulation of policies for sustainable water resource management is a complex process. Water resource management is typically associated with multiple stakeholders and a wide range of social, environmental and economic needs. Moreover, effective management of water resources is achieved through the linkage of sustainable land and water uses across the whole of a river basin crossing boundaries of different administrative units. Global institutions highly promote the participation of local communities, claiming that water resource management and development are central to sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, communities face numerous barriers in their efforts to establish sustainable water and land resources management systems. water sources and watersheds and adapt to weather-related disasters

Course program

In January 2012, 30 international students from different disciplinary backgrounds (anthropology, biology, forestry, public administration, civil engineering etc.) will conduct fieldwork in the Cagayan Valley, Philippines. Fifteen of these students will be from Isabela State University and the other 15 students will participate via Leiden University. The course will consist of an introduction to water issues and water management in the Philippines by various organizations in Manila and Los Banos (among others an NGO, a government institution and an international organization). A series of lectures will be given at Isabela State University by external and academic presenters. Several field sites will be visited for an in-depth introduction to water issues (such as an irrigation project, a watershed reforestation/climate change mitigation project and a dam used for hydro-electric power generation). The students will work in couples (interdisciplinary, multi-cultural) on the development of a small field study on a water-related issue. Field work will be conducted by these couples during one week. Data will be analyzed and a field report will be written and presented during a concluding workshop on water issues to which external participants (representatives of government and societal organizations working with water) will be invited.

For students participating through Leiden University, a number of meetings will be organized in which an introduction will be given on water resources and related management issues as well as on practical matters of doing fieldwork in the Philippines. Literature on the topic will be distributed and read by the students before departure. After return to the Netherlands a final report will be written by the students. The written reports of the 15 field studies will be compiled and printed as a booklet. A colloquium will be organized in which students will present their experiences and the outcome of their field studies.

Mode of Instruction

Preparations in the Netherlands (fall-winter 2011):

  • Introduction meeting on October 5th (evening): 3 study hours
  • Theme day on Water Management in early November: 4 study hours (half day)
  • Literature 60 pages: 10 study hours
  • Workgroup Water Management on November 9th (evening): 3 h x 2 = 6 study hours
  • Preparation meeting on December 14th (evening): 4 study hours

Philippines (January 2012):

  • Visits to institutions/projects 6-11 January: 6 days x 8h = 48 study hours
  • Visits to projects in Luzon (Tumaunini, Penablanca, San Mariano) on 13, 15 and 28/29 January: 4h + 8h + 8h = 20 study hours)
  • Lectures 12-14 January: 12 lectures x 1.5 h = 18 study hours
  • Fieldwork preparations 12-16 January: Workgroups 3 × 4h x 2 = 24 study hours
  • Fieldwork 17-24 January (6 full days + 2 days for travel and settlement): 6 × 8h x 2 = 96 study hours
  • Data analysis, writing the report, presentation 25-27, 30-31 January (5 days/evenings): 10 h/day x 5 = 50 study hours

Total: 280 study hours (10 ECTS)


Preparatory meetings: October-December 2011
Philippines: January 3rd – February 4th, 2012 (arrival in Amsterdam on Feb.5th)


approx. 1600 euro, including ticket, visa, local transport, accommodation and food


In order to have a multidisciplinary group of students a selection will be made of students who register for this course on the basis of disciplines (in case there are more than 15 students expressing an interest in participating). The preference goes out to 3rd year Bachelor students at Leiden University but if there are vacancies, students from other universities are also welcome.

Students are invited to pre-register for this course until September 23, 2011. They can do so by writing a short motivation letter and submitting their C.V., stating discipline, study progress and other relevant topics, experiences or interests. Please send this letter to Prof.dr. Gerard A. Persoon at , and c.c. to Drs. Nina Osterhaus-Simic at Before the end of September the final selection will be made.

Contact information

Course organizers: Drs. Merlijn van Weerd, Prof. Dr. Gerard Persoon, Dr. Dante Aquino (Isabela State University)