Winter School 2024 Program Report

The Faculty of Agriculture at Yamagata University (YU) in collaboration with the Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment at the Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) successfully conducted the "Sustainable Water Management and Food Security" Winter School. The one-week intensive program, held from February 26 to March 2, 2024, educated students pertinent issues concerning water supply and sanitation, agricultural water management, and food security. Fifteen students, comprised of nine from YU and six from VNUA, engaged in this immersive learning experience hosted at VNUA’s campus in Hanoi, Vietnam.

▲Figure 1. Prof. Toru Watanabe delivering a welcome address and introduction to the Yamagata University's Faculty of Agriculture.

Participants enjoyed a rich blend of seminars and field experiences, focusing on the synergy between water infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, mining industry, aquaculture, and natural resource stewardship in various Vietnamese locales (Hanoi City, Bac Ninh, Ninh Binh, and Quang Ninh provinces).

▲Figure 2. The participants attended a number of lectures and seminars in order to gain a deeper understanding of the emerging issues in Vietnam pertaining to water management and food security.

Interactive sessions with local stakeholders, including governmental authorities and cooperative representatives, enriched the students' understanding of the region's environmental challenges. These dialogues culminated in student-led initiatives aiming to innovate clean water supply and ensure food safety.

▲Figure 3. The participants joined a technical tour to visit a water treatment facility in Hanoi's suburbs in order to learn about the water treatment process and gain an understanding of the current water quality and supply issues in Hanoi
▲Figure 4. The participants visited a wastewater treatment facility in Bac Ninh province to learn treatment processes of different types of wastewater sources and gain an understanding of the current reuse of domestic wastewater and effluent quality control.

The program's practical aspect featured a joint research project between the two faculties on the reuse of treated municipal wastewater for rice cultivation at VNUA, offering the students hands-on experience in environmental surveying, sample collection, and laboratory water quality analysis.

▲Figure5. The students conducted field surveys, sampled and analyzed irrigation water, and accessed the water quality in a laboratory at VNUA.

The program was further enriched by a number of fieldtrips to expose students with real-life examples and lessons, allowing them to deeply involved in and understand the circumstances from different perspectives, particularly through the direct communication with local communities, such as farmers and local tour guides.

▲Figure 6. The students joined a technical tour to visit a rice farming area in Ninh Binh province to learn about a unique paddy rice cultivation method and how such a farming and the livelihoods of local communities is being challenged by emerging issues related to tourism enhancement and water contamination.
▲Figure 7. The students visited Ha Long Bay where they learned the effects of mining industry and tourism development on water quality, aquaculture, and food safety, as well as the shift in livelihoods of communities in nearby fishing villages.

Cultural immersion in a number of heritage sites in each of locals visited complemented the academic schedule, fostering a deeper connection between participants and the local context.

▲Figure 8. Students explored Vietnamese culture, attractions, and local foods during the program.

The Winter School facilitated a cross-cultural idea exchange, strengthening the skillsets of the participating students, which are anticipated to benefit their future career trajectories. このウインタースクールによって、異文化間のアイディア交換が促進されました。また、参加学生の知識や技能が強化され、学生の将来のキャリア形成により良い影響をもたらすことが期待できることでしょう。

▲Figure 9. Group discussion and student reports on their understanding and experiences throughout the program's duration.