Track 7 Topic 1: Which competences do we need to build for sustainable water futures?

Track contributions

Started 9 months ago

How the water sector will look like in five, ten or twenty years? Which competences do water professionals need to develop in order to work effectively in that environment? How these competences can be integrated in water education and training programs?

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First i wish to highlight the fact this track is covering two different sectors water and sanitation as highlighted in SDG 6. This is so that we avoid over-looking the importance of sanitation by focusing too much on water. I suggest that this should reflected in the final report.

Sanitation Sector Future Outlook: In the future we need to be looking at context specific sanitation solutions that are intergated into other public service delivery structures and mechanisms. We need to look at sanitation governance as separate from water governance. We need to look at sanitation technology infrastructure and management that can are biophilic and biomimic, and also target the population at the base-of-the-pyramind. Unlike water, sanitation has not met any of the targets of the MDG and is still not close to the targets of the SDG. So a concerted, deliberate and focus drive is crucial going forward. With the increasing urban population, couple with poor sanitation management the risk of sanitation crisis in most cities of developing countries is very high.

Competencies in demand: knowledge of the science and technology of sanitation management; operations and management of sanitation facilities; treatment and disposal standards and guideline requirements; sanitation resource recovery and reuse know-how; and governance and management skills, etc.

Integrated sanitation higher education: The traditional approach of sanitation education that is either ad-hoc or merely small parts of other disciplines (water, health etc) do not quite capture the essence of managing sanitation issues, which can explain the lack of core sanitation professionals and why the sanitation SDG are under-performing. Thus, sanitation management higher education is crucial in the race to 2030 and beyond other to produce competent and efficient workforce as well as versatile and viable enterprises that produce innovative and contextual solutions. A deliberate and structured design for sanitation management higher education as a focus discipline is recommended. We proposed a National Sanitation Management Higher Education (NSMHEd) pathway, an integrated sanitation management education at higher academic institutions, technical and vocational education institutions and professional/practitioner training to build effective, efficient competent and sufficient sanitation management workforce for the country. The proposed transformation pathway requires a systematic approach that is Needs-based, Competency-based and Inter-profession-based with practical linkages between academia, research, industry and governance.

I would say that the competencies water professionals need to have is:

- first: technical knowledge and ability to identify problems and solutions

- and secondly, as important as the first one, to be able to engage and communicate with multi-stakeholders, as problems are getting more and more complicated, stakeholders have knowledge that the professionals need, but can only be tapped into when the professionals can explain effectively what they know and mean and, even more important, when these professionals can listen good!

In five, ten or twenty years...

...the water sector might engage communities with a picture of success in mind. SDG 6 targets are hard to measure, and harder to implement. If water users, regulators, providers and neighbours have a clear image of what success looks like (healthy environment, water security, healthy communities), it would be easier to get everyone on board, playing their role - everyone has got a role to play! 

To work effectively in this environment, water professionals might need to develop soft skills to approach people, education skills to tailor capacity development to different learning types and customise content to a wide range of existing capacity.  

These compentencies could be integrated in water education and training programs by extending the time of (applied) research projects so that water professionals also have time to adapt and learn from beneficiaries.  

Thank you for contribution. Today (14:00-16:00 CEST), you will give a pitch on your findings and we will discuss the lessons learned and recommendation in the live session with the Track-7 participants.