Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
November 14, 2002
U of G strengthens partnership with Cuban university
The University of Guelph is working in co-operation with a university in Havana, Cuba, to support environmentally sustainable development and to allow Cubans to further their studies in environmental engineering. The partnership is being funded through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with a $750,000 contribution to the university over six years.
"This funding allows us to continue and expand the scope of the co-operative work that started three years ago," said Lambert Otten, director of the School of Engineering and project director.
Otten and Cuban engineer José Ameneiros are working with the Cuban urban agriculture ministry to develop a low-cost system to produce compost from municipal solid waste for crop production. It will produce seedlings for hundreds of farmers in the Havana area, said Otten.
"Cuba is probably the most advanced country in the world in promoting sustainable production through soil conservation, organic soil inputs and biological pest control, and in attracting people back to the farm," he said. "We expect to learn a great deal from them."
In turn, U of G will work with the Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría of Havana to provide post-graduate education in environmental engineering and to deliver courses in environmental management for mid-career professionals in industry, government and community organizations.
"Over a period of five years, we'll have three Cuban faculty members who will upgrade to a PhD at the University of Guelph," said Otten. "They'll do their studies here but their research in Cuba because it will be directly related to their environment." The first PhD student is set to arrive on campus in January.
Guelph rural planning and development professor Nonita Yap is organizing the 10 week-long courses for mid-career professionals along with Cuban professor David Tolenado. "In every short course, we have a Canadian working with a Cuban, so there's always a transfer of knowledge and skills," said Yap. Otten will teach "Integrated Solid Waste Management" to Cuban professionals this spring and Yap will teach "Cleaner Production" and "International Standards Organization 14001" in the fall of 2003.
In addition to providing education, "we are equipping one of the Cuban university's labs with state-of-the-art analytical equipment and are upgrading its library to include books, journals and reports on environmental engineering," said Otten.
Brenda Chamberlain, MP for Guelph, Wellington, announced the funding on behalf of Minister for International Co-operation Susan Whelan. "Environmental sustainability is an essential part of long-term development," Chamberlain said. "In order to achieve this goal, the University of Guelph has been sharing its expertise and experience with developing countries for a number of years. This work also provides an opportunity for our university community to learn from their peers overseas."
This initiative is funded through CIDA's University Partnerships in Co-operation and Development Program, which allows Canadian universities to partner with developing country organizations specializing in education and training.
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