2023 Activity Report vol.4:Kyoto University

Activity Report of Open Application Program 2023 vol.4 (Course C)

Fusion of Science and Technology for Environmental Pollutant Solutions in Botswana Mining' Area

Report from Department of Environmental Engineering, Kyoto University
Assistant Professor Oleszek Sylwia

Department of Environmental Engineering of Kyoto University has hosted 5 graduated students and 2 researchers from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Department of Biological and Biotechnological Sciences of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) for the Science and Technology Training Course in the subject of "Fusion of science and technology for environmental pollutant solutions in Botswana Mining' Area". The aim of the Sakura Scientific Exchange Program was to support the development of outstanding human resources in Botswana (BIUST) and provide them with opportunities to acquire analytical skills that are important in assessing and mitigating environmental pollution.

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Botswana, like other African countries, faces many problems associated with intensive industrialization, population growth, and increased solid waste generation.
In Botswana, pollution by heavy metals from mineral mining is a serious problem. Additionally, as everywhere in the world there is an increasing problem with microplastics that comes from the degradation of plastic waste littered without control to the environment. In 2022 we started Africa−Japan collaborative work (AJ−CORE) toward improvement of water quality in Botswana by detection, minimization, and removal of heavy metals. As for microplastics, we started screening their concentration in the surface water system and sediments to develop long−term solutions to reduce the impact of these contaminants on the ecosystem and human health.

The group from BIUST arrived on September 8 at the late night at Narita Airport and the next day in the afternoon day arrived at Kyoto Station. That day the group got orientation at the Yoshida Campus of Kyoto University. On September 9 the group traveled to Osaka and visited Osaka Science Museum and Planetarium.

From September 11 to 15 the group participated in research activities and meetings at Katsura Campus of Kyoto University.
For three days the group actively participated in the laboratory work and practiced with various equipment such as SEM−EDS, FTIR, Py−GC−MS, ICP−MS, and ICP−AES.
For two days, the group was involved in the research meetings: On September 13 in the morning, there was a lecture given by Professor Izabela Rzeznicka from Shibaura Institute of Technology who talked about the practical use of smartphones for environmental and medical monitoring of contaminants in Africa. The same day in the afternoon the whole group participated in the International Symposium on Management of Emerging Pollutants in Water and Waste, and two BIUST students gave presentations during the Symposium.

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On September 15 it was the Japan−Botswana Research Knowledge Exchange Meeting during that, the Dean of our Department (Professor Takaoka Masaki) introduced to the Graduate School of Engineering of Kyoto University, and the Japanese and Botswana students presented their research subjects. The meeting ended with tasting Japanese food and sweets and with intensive talk about research and cultural differences.

On September 16 the BIUST students visited Gion and Bamboo Forest at Arashiyama and enjoyed Japanese "shabushabu" at one of the Kawaramachi Street malls.
On September 17, the guests left Kyoto early morning for Osaka−Itami airport. The BIUST group arrived safely in Botswana on September 18.

10 days hosting of the BIUST group was a great experience for both Botswanan and Japanese students and researchers. Many staff of our department, particularly the staff of Professor Takaoka, were involved in making this hosting feasible, efficient, and pleasant for the BIUST group. We would like to express gratitude to all these staff, and we would like to thank to Sakura Science Program for this great initiative!

At the end, we would like to complete the Report with an opinion given by the BIUST students:

  • "I got the chance to learn and operate the equipment on my own with guidance from technicians and students. I was given a platform to give a presentation on one of my objectives on an international symposium that was held there, and it gave me a different perspective on presentation [Mrs. Gorata]".
  • "It has inspired me to strive for excellence in my own pursuit and to continuously seek ways to contribute positively to the scientific community. The cultural exchange also broadened my horizons and instilled a deep appreciation for diversity and inclusivity[Mrs. Dineo]".
  • "It was a transformational experience that broadened my horizons not only academically, but also culturally. The rich heritage and traditions of Japan combined with the exchange of ideas with Japanese students make this experience truly unforgettable[Mrs. Koziba]".
  • "My visit to Japan through the Sakura Exchange Program had a positive effect on a lot of things in my life including to be time conscious, discipline, etiquette for manning rooms after use[Mr. Trust]".
  • "The exposure to Katsura Campus environmental instrumentation was the best, I am implementing what I have learned in my laboratories, the workmanship, and the discipline... Thank you to everyone who was involved in organizing this amazing lifetime trip[Mrs. Mercy]".
  • "It is impossible to visit Japan and return unchanged... I brought with me the raw culture, olfactory beauty, and discipline of the Japanese people when I returned home[Mrs. Katumelo]".
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