Panama’s history confirms that water is the greatest resource for its development, and preparing experts in its care and management is a necessity that cannot be postponed. Starting this year, the University of Panama is opening a degree in hydrology and water resources engineering.
Elías López, dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Panama, explained to El Faro that the idea of training hydrologists was born as a conclusion of the XIII Meeting of National Committees and Focal Points of UNESCO‘s International Hydrological Program for Latin America and the Caribbean (IHP-LAC) held in Panama in 2018. At the Panamanian State level, this need is listed as one of the five priorities of the National Water Security Plan 2015-2050.
Breadth of topics
The preparation of these experts will cover a wide variety of topics: “The hydrologist must know about economics, water laws and how water conflicts are resolved,” explains the director of the program, Daly Espinosa. The engineer adds that these new experts will be trained to analyze water availability, design hydraulic works, and understand the relationship between the environment and human beings. “This professional has many opportunities,” the director points out.
Espinosa points out that there is a lot to do, for example, “the solid flow is only measured in the Canal Basin and we need to do it in the whole country”. A long-term objective will be to ensure that in every municipality of the country there are hydrological engineers and technicians to collaborate in the sustainability of development.
Oceanologist Luis González, vice dean of the engineering faculty pointed out, “my role has been to design the structure of the curriculum and the selection of students”. So far, 36 students have enrolled for the first graduating class of hydrological engineers trained in Panama.