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The Ulster team were delighted to host Mr Armando López and Mr Hector Castelán from Cántaro Azul, when they visited Ulster University for two weeks in February.

Armando is Technology Co-ordinator and designs innovative technologies which can be used for water treatment systems and Hector is Water Quality Area Co-ordinator and oversees water quality analysis.

Hector spent one week at NICHE with Dr Bill Snelling gaining training in molecular biology techniques; then one week in NIBEC with Dr Jeremy Hamilton training on water quality devices. Armando spent two weeks in NIBEC receiving training from Dr Helen Lubarsky in the assessment of reactors for the removal of pathogens including bacteriophage. Two engagement events were held, a lunchtime seminar at Coleraine and a workshop in NIBEC, where Hector and Armando shared their experience of providing water treatment solutions in rural Mexico. Both events provided Ulster staff with critical insight into the challenge associated with the provision of safe water in resource limited settings.  Hector and Armando also participated in the Northern Ireland Science Festival’s Health Technologies Futures event in NIBEC on Friday 15 February with 120 P7 school children visiting the SAFEWATER expo which demonstrated a specially constructed rural Mexican kitchen, with an augmented reality movie developed by Cántaro Azul helping visitors to understand the conditions faced by millions of people in rural Mexico.

Analysis undertaken of water samples in the NIBEC laboratory using SAFEWATER devices for water quality assessment; (left to right) Mr Armando López, Professor Tony Byrne (SAFEWATER PI) and Mr Hector Castelán

Demonstration at the SAFEWATER expo of a specially constructed rural Mexican kitchen; (left to right) Mr Hector Castelán, Mr Alan Liddle (SAFEWATER PM) and Mr Armando López

(Left to right) Dr Helen Lubarsky, Mr Armando López, Dr Bill Snelling and Mr Hector Castelán

Commenting on his learning achieved, Armando stated that,

“The Ulster University training has really deepened my knowledge on the benefits of inter-disciplinary research and the opportunities for collaborative research for developing water programmes in Mexico. I will bring back to Cántaro Azul a spectrum of knowledge to help in designing safe water solutions for rural communities in Mexico.”

Commenting on the experience he had, Hector stated that,

Working with professionals in their field to find solutions to the challenge of safe water supply to the rural communities in Mexico, is one of many complexities facing Cántaro Azul in order to address the SAFEWATER objectives. The experiences I gained at Ulster University in this context were extremely beneficial and productive, to bring back to Mexico”.

The exchange of the two-key staff from our partner NGO, Cántaro Azul has further developed collaboration and transdisciplinary partnerships, strengthening capacity within the SAFEWATER project. The exchange visits were funded by the Ulster DOCC project  (‘Development of GCRF overseas partner capacity and capability toolkits and training programmes’ supported by DfE/Ulster GCRF pump-priming call) and the SAFEWATER project (GCRF UK Research and Innovation funding; EPSRC Grant Reference EP/P032427/1).