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Water Management: Jobs for the Future? Testimonies from the MENA Region

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Mar 23, 2016 / 0 Comments
   

The needs for investment in the water sector are considerable in the Mediterranean region. Water demand - driven by urbanization, the development of tourism, irrigated agriculture and industrialization - is growing rapidly. The water sector should also be able to respond promptly to the various natural and human crises that could arise: droughts and floods, armed conflicts, refugee influx.

 

Moreover, the impacts of climate change effects are likely to become increasingly important. According to a World Bank report, "Turn Down the Heat", water resources in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) could decrease by 15% to 45% depending on the locations and scenarios. This will require significant efforts in terms of water demand management, treatment and reuse of wastewater, desalination, as well as citizens’ awareness and commitment.

 

The World Bank attaches great importance to the issues of water and of employment. In its new strategy for the region, security of water supply is central and comprises several priorities: water management in urban areas, productivity of agricultural water, improvement of the water-energy nexus, citizens’ engagement and cooperation on cross-border waters.

 

These projects will require new human resources. In France for example, the water sector represents 174,000 direct jobs for an annual turnover of 30 billion euros. It makes no doubt that, in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries, hundreds of thousands of jobs, including several “new jobs” will be needed to address complex situations.

 

Three young engineers from MENA, enrolled in a Master's Degree Specialized in Water Management at the AgroParisTech Montpellier University in France, share their views on employment in the water in their respective countries.

 

Fatima Z. Ben Haddouche (Morocco)

"Africa has a real potential for skilled employment in the water sector"

 

The future of Africa is extremely promising. Yet the continent suffers from a serious lack of basic infrastructure, particularly in terms of water. This poses as a major challenge (growing demand, climate change, inappropriate storages, cross-border cooperation). But it also represents a real potential for job creation. Highly qualified profiles are certainly needed for successful projects. After I obtained my degree in Hydraulic Engineering from the Hassania School of Public Works in Morocco (2010), I worked in a civil engineering company, then in a research office, which led me to the following conclusion: the sustainability of works is determined by the quality of the preparatory phases. This therefore places the advisor engineer at the center of the project’ implementation. This is the reason behind my passion for this profession. My enrolment in the Specialized Master stems from my belief that we need to control the aspects of water management in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and multi-level manner. Africa is in the process of adopting new water management models but it remains essential to strengthen the skills of young water professionals with efficient training.

 

Fares Aouichat (Algeria)

"Finding a job in the field of water treatment in Algeria: a hard mission"

 

I graduated from the Ecole Nationale Polytechnique of Algiers in Environmental Engineering Processes, I quickly geared towards water sector jobs. My university research project focused on the treatment of leachate emanating from household waste through a membrane bioreactor. The project was extremely interesting, however it remained in the experimental phase. It’s a shame because academic research could be better estimated and valued. The centralized water management in Algeria is more oriented towards offering new resources (dams, desalination, and water transfer from the Sahara) rather than towards water treatment and water quality. This is why a majority of consumers purchase bottled water. My upcoming mission at SUEZ, in the context of my Specialized Master degree, will allow me to further develop my expertise in improving the operation of sewerage systems of large cities.

 

Ayoub Atfaoui (Morocco)

"The fields of water and energy are increasingly intertwined"

 

I am 25 and I am Moroccan. I am an engineer specialized in energy engineering, and I graduated from the Faculty of Sciences and Techniques of Mohammedia, in Morocco. I chose to pursue my studies and acquire a double diploma in two closely-related areas: water and energy. This interdependence is complex and requires a global vision of water management, an understanding of the political dimension of water, and a sound analysis of technical aspects. I appreciate the Masters I am enrolled in as it combines professionals from the business and research world, and it allows us to conduct group work on concrete and topical projects.

 

These stories illustrate to what extent young people in the MENA region are mobilized today. They are passionate. They are also seeking training and capacity-building because they understand to what extent the water management is a complex and interdisciplinary sector. Let’s hope that the new Sustainable development Goal 6 "Ensure access to water and sanitation for all" adopted by 193 countries in September 2015 gets implemented in the region by 2030. It needs preparation and development partners are up for the challenge.

Gillian Cadic

Professor - Specialized Master AgroParistech Water Management.

Hervé Lévite

Hervé Lévite is seconded to CMI by French ministry of Ecology to lead the Center for Mediterranean Integration Green Growth program. This programme aims at increasing the capacity of countries (through experience sharing and benchmarking) to analyze challenges and opportunities for implementing a shift towards an inclusive green economy. 

Sophie Richard

Professor - Specialized Master AgroParistech Water Management.

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