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Collaboratory update October 2022 | Colombia

The latest news and updates from our colleagues in Colombia

20 October 2022

Earlier this year our Colombia Collaboratory launched an Agroecology course, developed by Universidad del Cauca as part of the Hub’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF) projects. Agroecology, defined as sustainable farming in harmony with nature, is the application of ecological concepts and principles in farming. Similar to socio-ecological perspectives, agroecology emphasises the importance of considering the bigger picture of relationships between plants, animals, people, and their environment. Over 80 participants took part in the course, including students from the Institución Educativa Misak Mama Manuela in Silvia, members of the community water supply organisation ASOCAMPO, and campesino and indigenous community members of the Upper Cauca River Basin. After successfully coming to a close in July, the course officially ended with a graduation ceremony for participants. 

Following the great success of, and feedback on, the Agroecology course, the Colombia team has continued an extended version of the course in collaboration with the SHARE project. Titled ‘Developing Strategies for Water and Food Security for the Economy Reactivation’, the course includes four modules on governance, planification, food security, and water security, using theoretical, practical, and participatory approaches. The first two modules have been successfully completed with participants in the four municipalities of Cajibío, Popayán, Silvia, and Totoró. 

A mixed group of people stand slightly uphill from us on a lush green hillside, listening to a farmer talk, with trees rising above them
A mixed group of people stand slightly uphill from us on a lush green hillside, listening to a farmer talk, with trees rising above them

In the field with CIPAV

The Universidad del Valle and the Centre for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems (CIPAV) have signed an agreement to develop social-ecological transitions in the Guerrero micro-watershed in the municipality of Jamundí. This builds on existing work in the Jamundí River Basin, including Payments for Ecosystem Services and the Nuestra Agua (‘Our Water’) community water information system. Hub researchers are working closely with rural aqueduct representatives, social leaders, community organisations, and professionals from the Jamundí mayor's office to recognise and document farmers’ experiences to aid the development of their socio-ecological justice framework.

A mixed group of people stand together smiling
A mixed group of people stand together smiling

Colleagues from across the Hub have been travelling and coming together for workshops, training, field work, and knowledge exchange. In late summer, Juliana Salazar and Andrés Toro from the Colombia Collaboratory joined Hub researchers from across the globe for workshops and training events in the U.K. At Newcastle University, they participated in the weeklong water quality training and mini research symposium, working with the ‘Lab in a suitcase’ portable molecular diagnostics tools. At the University of Leeds, they joined colleagues for capacity building workshops focused on analysis of disinfection by-products and water-associated risks.

Over shoulder view between two people of Ángela, inspecting a water sample
Over shoulder view between two people of Ángela, inspecting a water sample

Ángela Bayona-Valderrama from the Leeds team has spent two months in our Colombia Collaboratory with the Universidad del Cauca team. Ángela’s research focuses on the intersection of water safety, public health, and behavioural notions of water quality; specifically the multiple pathways that create disease risk associated with consumption of faecally contaminated stored water in communities experiencing intermittent water supply (IWS). Ángela has implemented a water quality assessment in urban and rural households in Cajibío, a town 20 km from Popayán, and spent time establishing important, trustful relationships with communities and authorities in the municipality. “The main objective of my PhD project is the development of an approach to multidimensional risk characterisation of IWS, with specific consideration of water storage behaviours. My intention is to contribute to building a risk assessment approach that addresses water insecurity in communities where water supply is often unreliable, and that outputs of this research will help in creating safer water to store water at households, schools, worksites, and healthcare facilities. I am lucky to be able to collaborate with our friends from Universidad del Cauca and gain from their expertise and ongoing research.” - Ángela

In September, Dr Diana Ruiz Ordonez and Dr Yady Tatiana Solano-Correa also visited colleagues in Newcastle and Leeds. They participated in a number of interdisciplinary activities including water risks and values, hydrological modelling, remote sensing for basin characterisation, risk planning and the MUISKA framework, and interdisciplinary approaches to water security. 

Finally, Federico Pinzón of the Universidad del Valle team has been made a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (USFM), Brazil, to participate in the university’s information and technology project. One objective of the UFSM project is to explore the connections between modes of production, circulation, and consumption of information, in the search for a more just society.

Two men and two women sat at desks lean in and smile towards the camera
Federico stands in front of a project screen delivering a talk on SIGAC
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