The celebration of WE are Water Education (Indonesia) launch event took place on December 11, 2023, in Surabaya, accompanied by The Water Agency and experts from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam joining online and staffs from the Public Works of Water Resource Agency of East Java Province (PUSDA EJP). Mr. Fauzy Nasruddin from PUSDA commenced the launch by marking the initiation of this third capacity-building program of TMT by Nuffic. He expressed gratitude for the ongoing collaboration with the Netherlands on flood management for the Welang River since 2018, emphasizing the master plan co-creation. Moving into a more integrated phase with multiple agencies and stakeholders, this training program forms a crucial part of their collective effort. He then appreciated the attendees’ presence and commitment to this training initiative.
Following Mr. Fauzy’s speech, Ms. Esther Den Hartog from VU Amsterdam explained the project’s history, starting in 2019, in collaboration with universities in Myanmar, focusing on interdisciplinary and practice-oriented water management. She emphasized the significance of an “interdisciplinary approach” and a “practice-oriented” program to enhance the skills and knowledge of water professionals, aligning with the staff from EJP.
The session transitioned to the introduction by Mr. Gregor van Essen and Ms. Carrina Lim – they explained the organization’s activities in Indonesia and the roles of team members within the “WE are Water Education (Indonesia)” program.
During the session, a representative from PUSDA offered a comprehensive overview of the Welang River’s dynamics, highlighting its sectors, basin divisions, tributaries, and essential basin-related information. Emphasizing its predominant role in irrigation, the river also supports tourism activities, acts as a vital water source for local communities and industries, and fosters a local economy by utilizing river sediments for brick production. Due to its extensive use, the Welang River currently faces many challenges such as flooding, sediment, drought and solid waste.
Moreover, it was noted that certain industries were suspected for surpassing their approved water usage limits, leading to a decrease in the river’s water levels and an increased visibility of waste. The presentation also covered the severity of flooding and the current infrastructure and strategies in place to mitigate it. However, these efforts encounter substantial challenges posed by factors like soil erosion, rapid urban development, and climate change.
Mr. Syauqi Asyraf Faiz from The Water Agency, then presented the Program details, covering its goals, planned activities, insights gathered from prior brainstorming sessions regarding the current state of the Welang River, strategies for leveraging expertise in river management, expected outcomes from this capacity-building program, and additional aspects to be included. Subsequently, he introduced the Asia Water Academy website, emphasizing its focus on the interdisciplinary approaches and practices.
Afterwards, Mr. Hans de Moel from VU Amsterdam explained clusters and course overview within the program, course structure, topics and the progress of course development. An interactive Q&A section was also conducted – mainly focused on the participants’ familiarity with online learning, their perspective for the main water issues in Welang River, and the topics they would like to discuss in each cluster. The input from this Q&A section will be carefully considered in the development of the course.
The success of the launch event was owed to attendees from EJP, VU Amsterdam, and The Water Agency, marking the beginning of further development for the WE are Water Education (Indonesia) Program enabling knowledge transfer and creating integrated and cross- sectoral collaboration in climate-resilient Water Management for the Welang River Basin.