MEDRC Alumni Forums held in Palestine

The annual MEDRC Alumni Forums took place in Palestine last week, with live events as well as online participation via Zoom. It was the 4th edition of the Forums, the first of which took place in 2018.

The Alumni Forum in Palestine took place on 28 and 29 July, under the patronage of H.E. Eng. Mazen Ghuneim, Minister and Head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), with events in Gaza and the West Bank. In his remarks at the start of the event, the Minister stressed the importance of promoting scientific research among young people and praised MEDRC, the PWA and the universities for their concerted efforts to support young researchers in the water sector. MEDRC Center Director, Ciarán Ó Cuinn praised the efforts of the universities involved in MEDRC’s Water Research Fellowship program in Palestine as well as the individual researchers, saying “Each of the MSc, PhD and Innovation Initiative projects, boost national capacity and we are proud of every single researcher that has participated. They are a credit to their country, families and universities.” Also speaking at the opening sessions were Marwan Al-Bardawil, Head of PWA program Gaza and representatives from the universities partnering with the PWA and MEDRC in the Water Research program.

The Gaza forum, entitled Water and Green Growth: Towards Sustainability, provided a platform for discussion and showcasing solutions for sustainable growth – an approach recognizing the importance of growth as an engine for poverty reduction while acknowledging the finite nature of natural resources and the need to avoid waste, whether of natural, human or financial resources. Researchers from MEDRC’s Water Research program and experts from the water sector presented their work in sessions focused on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), the water-energy-food nexus and technological developments in the water sector. During the sessions an emphasis was placed on issues of particular relevance to Gaza. The Forum also included an opportunity for MEDRC alumni to showcase their work. For example, MEDRC Alumnus Eng. Ahmed Shaqfa presented the results of his Innovation Initiative research, in which he studied the impact of different management scenarios on seawater intrusion into the coastal aquifer from 2018 to 2035 using 3D modelling.

The event in the West Bank, on 28 July, was entitled Integrated Solutions for Water and Wastewater Issues to Achieve Sustainable Development. The West Bank forum consisted of three sessions, starting with presentations from researchers in MEDRC’s PhD and Innovation Initiative programs, such as Dr. Heba Nasser (An-Najah National University), who recently graduated with her dissertation entitled the Reduction of Nitrate Ion from Water using Nano-Copper Based Electrocatalyst. In another session, Eng. Fuheid Siam (Birzeit University) talked about the removal efficiency of pathogenic microorganisms in three different Palestinian wastewater treatment plants, a topic that sparked debate on the importance of water quality monitoring and standards in wastewater treatment, which are considered vital areas of research in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. As part of the Alumni Forum in the West Bank, a field trip to various water projects was held the day after the event. Participants visited Jericho Municipality, the Arab Development Society and the Jericho Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Eng. Fuheid Siam (Birzeit University)

The Alumni Forum in Jordan was held earlier in the week on 25 July. It’s theme was aligned with the UN World Water theme for 2021: Valuing Water. It consisted of 3 panels with subthemes focusing on the water-energy-food nexus, and the inclusion of youth and women in the design and implementation of water management strategies. The event was opened with a keynote speech from H.E. Eng. Bashar Bataineh, the General Secretary of the Water Authority of Jordan. Among the other speakers were Jehad Masadeh, Planning Affairs Advisor to the Minister of Youth, as well as representatives of NGOs (Sahara Forest Project Foundation, UNDP, IWMI), the private sector and the various universities involved in MEDRC’s Water Research program. The event concluded with presentations from MEDRC Alumni Eng. Ghada Halaweh (German Jordanian University), on the treatment of olive mill wastewater using dissolved air flotation, and Eng. Baraa Al-Khateeb (Jordan University of Science & Technology), on the use of a high-frequency ultrasound reactor and photovoltaic technology for the destruction of persistent organic pollutants in textile wastewater effluents.

To comply with measures against the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the events were attended by a limited number of participants and also held online via Zoom.


MEDRC Water Research Alumni Forums

The annual Alumni Forums are student-led, student focused events organized by Student Steering Committees in Palestine, consisting of researchers and alumni from MEDRC’s Water Research Fellowship program. The Forums aim to bring together MEDRC Fellows and industry experts in the field of water, agriculture and environment to discuss important, local, regional, and global water challenges in a collaborative environment, while highlighting some of the exceptional water research being conducted in the program in both countries.

MEDRC and the PWA have supported over 300 water research projects in Palestine since 2011. 8 new Innovation Initiative projects were added last month, with research on the development of a sludge drying system using a solar greenhouse, an assessment of dental wastewater discharged into the municipal sewage and the fabrication of Novel Nanocomposite Ultrafiltration Antifouling High Flux Membrane for the treatment of wastewater from crude oil sludge.