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International Course on Water Issues and Water Management in the Philippines


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 2013. 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 2013, 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. Fieldwork 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.


  • Information session: September 19th, 2012 (13-15 h, room 1A41, Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden).

  • Application: September 19-28, 2012

  • Selection and registrationof students: fist week of October

  • Preparatory meetings: October-December 2013

  • Philippines: January 2nd – February 2nd, 2013

Mode of Instruction

After the selection of participants:

Preparations in the Netherlands (fall-winter 2012):

  • Introduction meeting in October: 3 study hours

  • Theme day on Water Management (early November): 4 study hours (half day)

  • Literature 60 pages: 10 study hours

  • Workgroup Water Management (November): 3 h x 2 = 6 study hours

  • Preparation meeting (December): 4 study hours

Philippines (January 2nd – February 2nd 2013):

  • Visits to institutions/projects: 6 days x 8h = 48 study hours

  • Visits to projects in Luzon (Tumaunini, Penablanca, San Mariano): 4h + 8h + 8h = 20 study hours)

  • Lectures: 12 lectures x 1.5 h = 18 study hours

  • Fieldwork preparations: Workgroups 3 × 4h x 2 = 24 study hours

  • Fieldwork (6 full days + 2 days for travel and settlement): 6 × 8h x 2 = 96 study hours

  • Data analysis, writing the report, presentation (5 days/evenings): 10 h/day x 5 = 50 study hours

Total: 280 study hours (10 ECTS)
NB: Exact dates, time and location of all meetings will be announced on Blackboard.

Assessment method

Active participation in the meetings, lectures and fieldwork.
Written report (… words)


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 advised to join the information session about this course on September 19th 2012 (13-15 h, room 1A41, Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden).
Between September 19th and 28th it will be possible to apply for this course by writing a short motivation letter and submitting the C.V., stating the academic 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
The final selection of participants will be made in the first week of October.

Contact information

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