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Experienced Water Postdoc Fellowship COFUND Programme

Final Report Summary - EWPFP COFUND (Experienced Water Postdoc Fellowship COFUND Programme)

The Experienced Water Postdoc Fellowship COFUND Programme (EWPFP COFUND) provided an important stimulus for inward mobility from outside the Netherlands to strengthen the research capacity of IHE Delft (previously known as UNESCO-IHE), an institute with a focus on global sustainable management of water. The institute has focus in the training and capacity development through MSc, PhD and short-training programmes. The research capacity of the institute has heretofore largely lacked the important post-doctoral tier of research. The Institute focuses especially in problem oriented scientific and applied research that yields outcomes relevant to developing countries and countries in transition. Dedicated post-doctoral research and expertise attracted through the COFUND programme enhanced the capacity of the institute to deliver on building capacity and knowledge across several areas of research across six research themes: safe drinking water and sanitation; water related hazards and climate change; water and ecosystems quality; water management and governance; information and knowledge systems; and water, food and energy security. The application of the research to mainly developing world challenges has provided a strong cohort of experienced researchers that strengthens the European research base and the knowledge and awareness of opportunities between Europe and other parts of the world.
The programme was advertised via a weblink ( now replaced by with the first call launched on 8th January 2014, with a pre-announcement on the front page of the UNESCO-IHE website in December 2013. Applications were received between 1st March and 30th April 2014. The first call received 112 applications for a target of 8 water post-doctoral fellowships. All six research themes of the institute received applications, with a number cutting across several themes. There were 62 applications from male candidates and 50 from female candidates. There were 89 eligible applications and 23 ineligible applications. Following the first, remote, evaluation, and following the selection criteria of the programme, 21 applications met the criteria to pass to the second round for interview. Five applicants were offered contracts based on the ranking of the assessment and evaluation of quality of the remaining candidates. Three candidates accepted inward mobility contracts of two years each, starting in ether August or September 2015. The second call was launched by UNESCO-IHE in December 2015 and following pre-notification at water fairs during 2015, including the World Water Forum and Stockholm Water Week where UNESCO-IHE had an information booth. Applications were received between 17 January and 3 March 2016. The second call received 104 applications relevant to all Chair groups, with many cutting across the disciplines of those groups. Applications comprised 71 male candidates and 33 female candidates. A first screening left 90 eligible applications which were managed through the three departments of the institute for dissemination to reviewers, which 18 applications met the criteria for interview. Two subsequently withdrew, with 16 moving to interview and, following the strict ranking process, resulted in employment of nine post-doctoral fellows. The target of 8 employed post-doctoral fellows for the second batch was exceeded because of joint ranking of those in eight and ninth place. Two-year contracts were awarded to successful candidates, with starting dates between February and June 2017. Of the overall number of 12 post-doctoral fellows employed under the COFUND scheme, four are female and eight male. They are from a total of nine countries, and worked across eight Chair Groups and all the departments of the institute. All post-doctoral workers will fulfill the duration of their contracts.
Collectively, the topics of the twelve post-doctoral fellows cover the fields of: waterscapes and communication; groundwater governance; sanitation governance; global water accounting; optimization of water purification systems; enhanced techniques for desalination; pollutant recovery for the circular economy; development policy for climate change adaptation; geomorphology and sediment dynamics; biomonitoring and community development; drought and catchment management; and coastal zone management.
Outputs after the first batch of two-year contracts across the three post-doctoral fellows were a total of 18 published manuscripts published or in review. From the second batch outputs have been 16 papers in peer reviewed journals, four book chapters and 12 papers in review. The published output have wide socio-economic relevance across a diverse field of water science and education, ranging from enhanced methods for industrial techniques to potential for policy development and enhanced communication techniques for popular understanding of water issues in developing countries. Activities associated with the formal publication of work included examples of post-doctoral engagement with policy makers and the wider public.
All the post docs participated in teaching and research activities at MSc and PhD level training, including working towards a University Teaching Quality qualification, developed further skills from attendance at training courses and conferences, participating in proposal writing, and being invited onto scientific and policy groups and international panels at conferences. Individual development was attained through working alongside their professorial mentors and other members of the Chair Groups, across Chair Groups in multidisciplinary activities, contributing to proposal writing and internal Chair Group and institute wide seminars including a dedicated COFUND day conference for the entire institute.