Public Release: 

Asia-European collaboration addresses water management in Indonesia

University of Leicester

University of Leicester environmentalists are leading an international team in a research project that can help Indonesian researchers to reverse strategies that have resulted in inefficient water management which threatens local communities.

In recent decades, East Kalimantan and West Sumatra in Indonesia, have experienced fires, flooding, soil erosion and water quality degradation.

A lack of knowledge and understanding of water management issues at the river basin scale has led to inadequate decision making and policy support actions, resulting in project failure, environmental degradation and impoverishment of local communities.

The Air-Co research project (Asia-European Collaboration in Knowledge and Research in Integrated Water Resource Management) will promote and support the technical proficiency of Indonesian scientists on integrated water resources management at the river basin scale.

Dr Susan Page, Department of Geography, and Dr David Harper, Department of Biology, are leading the University of Leicester project team, alongside colleagues from the University of Wageningen, Netherlands, and Mulawarman and Jambi universities in Indonesia.

The Leicester and Wageningen environmentalists will train a core of researchers from the Indonesian universities in integrated water resources management, also supporting and upgrading their research.

They are already developing innovative educational methods and technologies to improve the quality of their teaching and learning; and strengthening Indonesia's institutional capacity to implement efficient water resources management in a framework of environmental sustainability and social and economic equity.

Dr Susan Page commented: "One of the ways in which we hope to help local research scientists is through the development of educational films which focus on specific river catchment issues - from source to sea.

"In Sumatra, we illustrate the problems that peatland development can bring for downstream communities, including increased likelihood of floods during the rainy season and fire during the dry season. In East Kalimantan, the film footage focuses on the impacts that destruction of the coastal mangrove forests has on local livelihoods, through changes in coastal fish stocks.

"The films will be supported by additional teaching materials which address strategies for sustainable river basin management that can be used by the Indonesian universities in their teaching and outreach programmes".

Dr David Harper added: "It is a fantastic opportunity to use our own skills, developed on the UK water resources such as Rutland Water and the Welland basin, to assist academic colleagues in new universities in Indonesia developing teaching materials to help conserve their own valuable natural resources.

"At the same time, the teaching materials that we develop enrich our own courses, help Leicester's own students, and enhance the University's growing reputation as the East Midlands' intellectual powerhouse and gateway to the world."

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Notes to Editors: Further information on the Air-Co project is available from Dr Sue Page, Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3318, Email: sep5@le.ac.uk

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