A Senior Programmes Officer of Nuffic, Mrs. Marieke Nieuwendijk, has commended UCC’s commitment towards promoting Water and Sanitation as an academic programme in the University.
She lauded the University for implementing new teaching methods, developing new curricula and embarking on staff development to strengthen the University’s capacity to offer professional training in the area of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Mrs. Nieuwendijk gave this commendation when she called on the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey, at his office as part of her working visit to Ghana to assess the implementation of various projects that are being supported by Nuffic in UCC and other Ghanaian academic institutions in line with the organisation’s vision of internationalizing education.
The Water and Sanitation Unit of the Department of Chemistry was awarded a grant by Nuffic to strengthen the capacity of the Unit to provide professional development support for Environmental Health and Sanitation Experts in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in 2014. The Unit is being supported by the Maastricht University of the Netherlands to implement the project.
With a budget of €919, 039, UCC is expected to develop the Water and Sanitation Unit into a full-fledged Department to offer sustainable expertise, services and training to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other clients, as well as provide support to the MMDAs in the Monitoring and Evaluation of WASH services.
The Former Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Prof. Samuel Yeboah Mensah, who is the Director of the Project on campus, noted that the Water and Sanitation Unit has made significant strides towards the implementation of the project. He noted that Water and Sanitation has become key to the development of Ghana and, therefore, called on the University to take advantage of the national and international attention that is being paid to this area of social development to enhance the development of the subject area in the University. He appealed to the University management to support the School of Physical Sciences to establish the Department of Water and Sanitation in the University.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, for his part, said that the University was happy to partner Nuffic in the area of Water and Sanitation and gave the assurance that the University would do everything that it could to support the project.
He said management will support the School and the College to establish the Department of Water and Sanitation and ensure the success of the project, which will end in 2018.
He said even though the University currently has a challenge with office space, additional space would be created that after the completion of the Science Annex Block, adding that the Department of Water and Sanitation, when established, would get offices in the Block.
Accompanying Mrs. Marieke Nieuwendijk were the Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Prof. L. K. Sam-Amoah, the Dean of the School of Physical Sciences, Prof. Kofi Essuman and the Coordinator of the Water and Sanitation Unit, Dr. Peter Appiah Obeng.
In an interview with Dr. Peter Appiah Obeng, who doubles as the Project Coordinator, he shed more light on the specific interventions being implemented by the Unit to achieve the goal of the project. These include the offer of scholarships for four lecturers of the Unit to pursue their PhD studies in Maastricht University as well as three former teaching assistants to pursue their Masters and return to support the future Department of Water and Sanitation. Dr. Obeng also indicated that physical facilities including laboratory and office equipment worth two hundred thousand euros (€200,000) are being procured as part of the capacity building.
According to Dr. Obeng, the project is supporting the Unit to review its existing curricula and to introduce additional relevant programmes in close collaboration with industry and other stakeholders of the WASH sector to respond to the perennial and emerging water and sanitation needs and challenges of the nation.
Dr. Obeng said that, with monitoring and evaluation and gender issues having been recognised as key challenges in the WASH sector, the project has a specific component aimed at developing a short course in gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation of WASH to be run by the future Department after piloting it in five selected MMDAs under the project.
He also noted that the Centre for Gender Research Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) of UCC is supporting the Unit in promoting gender equality among staff and students, as well as integrating it into the curricula being developed by the Unit.