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Norwegian University of Life Sciences

UMB-educated students from Pakistan help flood victims in home country

Eivind Norum, translation Joanna Boddens-Hosang

As the severity of the flood catastrophe in Pakistan became clear, former UMB students in the country immediately collected and participated in the affected areas to get food and water to remote villages.

Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan og hvordan rescue teamet fra COMSATS arbeider. The rescue team from COMSAT.
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan og hvordan rescue teamet fra COMSATS arbeider. The rescue team from COMSAT. Photo: COMSATS
The education and competence obtained as students in water, sanitation and health at UMB and partner University CIIT has helped them to tackle the challenges at hand.  As Dr Ingrid Nyborg (Noragric) explains “These newly educated students contribute with everything they know about flood waters, soil contamination and purification processes, health risks and development challenges”. 

Research and education in Pakistan
UMB has been engaged in research and education in Pakistan for many years and has many partners in the flood-stricken areas.

A NOMA project (Norad’s Programme for Master Studies) on Sustainable Water, Sanitation, Health and Development carried out by UMB’s Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences and Noragric has recently seen 22 Pakistani Master students graduate with knowledge on sustainable approaches to water and sanitation in rural areas of northwest Pakistan.

These students have been recruited by COMSATS University (CIIT) in the current relief efforts. A follow-up plan after the floods recede is being made to address sustainable water and sanitary systems and UMB is supporting COMSATS’ efforts in this time of need.

 “Our students and teachers in Pakistan are actively working in the crisis areas and are using the knowledge they obtained in collaboration with UMB to find solutions both in the short and long term”, says Professor Petter Jensen (Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences).
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan.
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan. Photo: COMSAT

Contributing with knowledge
UMB has been working on water and sanitation in developing countries for a long time. The above mentioned NOMA project runs simultaneously in Pakistan and Nepal. Students not only learn about engineering techniques but also social studies and health.

“The reason that many projects often don’t succeed is because of wrong technology in the wrong place. Combining engineering techniques with social sciences and knowledge on health and development is the key to larger success in international help and development projects” says Jenssen. 

New education under development
UMB has been working on a new course that will prepare Norwegians who travel abroad to e.g. crisis areas. The internet-based course is open for anyone who is interested, both in Norway and abroad.

UMB is coordinating the development of the course which is financially supported by Norgesuniversitetet (Norway Opening Universities). UMB also works closely with Norwegian Church Aid and the Fontes Foundation that are involved in water and sanitation solutions in crisis areas. Both NTNU and Norwegian industry are involved in developing the course.

The course will start in September. Once the course is finalized it will be available for partners and those interested in preparing for assignments related to water and drainage solutions in crisis situations and in developing countries.   
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan og hvordan rescue teamet fra COMSATS arbeider.
Bildet viser litt av situasjonen i Pakistan og hvordan rescue teamet fra COMSATS arbeider. Photo: COMSATS

Making a difference
UMB’s goal is to contribute to the Millenium Development Goals for water and sanitation, and reducing poverty. UMB also wants to contribute its expertise in order to be able to help in acute situations.
“Regarding the matter of sanitation, we are far from reaching the Millenium Goal on halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 since there will still be 2,5 billion people without acceptable sanitary conditions, the same number as in 2000.

The Goal won’t be reached when seen within the context of population growth. There is an enormous need in the coming years for expertise in solutions that are adaptable to local needs and that are maintained locally if we are to improve water, sanitary conditions and health for an increased world population”, says Jenssen.

Published: 27.08.10
Updated: 28.08.10
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