Capacity Building in Developing Countries

Integrated Water Resource Management for arid countries with emerging economies

Some 2.5 billion people around the world live without any wastewater infrastructures to speak of. One example is Jordan, a country where water is already scarce and groundwater is used to meet the majority of the demand for drinking water. More water is consumed than is renewed, and as a result, the water table is sinking at an average of one meter per year. Furthermore, untreated wastewater is contaminating Jordan’s scarce water resources. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig have addressed this by developing a wastewater treatment process that is based on nature and designed especially for use in emerging countries. The experts at UFZ not only managed to establish a functioning system with pilot facilities, but also succeeded in transferring the process they developed from the research setting to widespread practical use. The team set up an implementation office at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation and provided advice to local decision-makers. Jordan’s cabinet ultimately adopted a policy framework for a decentralized wastewater management system with active support from the German team. The “Jordan Model” has sparked interest among other countries in the Middle East as well: The construction of a research and demonstration facility has now begun in Iran, where less than three percent of the population have access to wastewater infrastructures, and Oman’s research council is dedicating funds for the construction of a research, demonstration, and testing facility in the country.


"Seismology and Seismic Risk" training course for developing and emerging countries at the Potsdam GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences provides training to experts from earthquake-prone developing and emerging countries in the field of earthquake safety and earthquake monitoring. The seismology training course is held on an annual basis and alternates between the Potsdam Center and a venue abroad. The project is funded by UNESCO and the German Federal Foreign Office. Additional funds are provided by GFZ. The four-to-six-week course is designed to impart basic theoretical knowledge and practical training in applied seismology, especially for geoscientists and engineers from earthquake-prone developing and emerging countries. Universities or governmental organizations that deal with earthquake safety or earthquake monitoring send participants from their home country. The course lecturers are experts in various fields of geoscience from GFZ, the International Seismology Centre in Thatcham (UK), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), and the University of Bergen (Norway).

International Training Course "Seismology and Seismic Hazard Assessment" at GFZ


Collaboration with schools in Cape Verde

As part of its cooperation with the National Cape Verdean Fisheries Research Institute INDP (Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimento das Pescas), the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel initiated contact between high schools in Kiel and Mindelo and the two research institutions. During the project weeks, German and Cape Verdean school students learn about the work of marine researchers. This gives them an idea of what scientists are investigating in the tropical Atlantic and why these questions are of more than just regional importance. The topics range from aspects of fishing around Cape Verde to the role of the oceanic oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) off the West African coast. The joint project also refers to the students’ own environments, such as the question of how much of the plastic waste that washes up on the beaches of Sao Vicente comes from the island itself and how much comes from across the Atlantic.

The objective of this joint project is to raise awareness among the German students of the living conditions in Cape Verde and to inspire them to reflect on how their behavior in Germany also influences life in Cape Verde in the context of a globalized world. The Cape Verdean students are also offered insights into the questions and possibilities of scientific research, giving them a new perspective for their own future.

The schools have already been in contact for five years since the project began and their efforts have begun to bear recognizable fruits: In the summer of 2014, they held a 14-day summer school organized by the DFG Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 754. Students and teachers from one German school and three schools from Mindelo took part in the event. The number of inquiries from Cape Verdean graduates regarding opportunities to study in the fields of science and technology has increased noticeably in Kiel, and the first Cape Verdean students have enrolled in their courses.

From the Baltic to the Tropical Atlantic

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  • Photo of Theresa Volkmer