I received a circular email the other day from EMWIS (the Euro-Mediterranean Information System on Know-how in the Water sector) highlighting some conclusions from the recent World Water Forum, specifically on the need for vocational training and the role of the International Network of Water Training Centres [Réseau International des Centres de Formations aux Métiers de l’Eau]. Here’s a little of what it said:
Most of the staff concerned are workers who, in too many developing countries, still have little or no training! The cost of labour accounts for up to one third of the total cost of the water utility, to optimize this significant expenditure, it is essential to improve skills through basic and continuing training for these professionals. But this is an area still largely underfunded both by governments and operators and even by bi and multilateral donors who are the first to complain about the negative consequences of this situation! It would therefore be advisable to better support vocational training in the water sector through sustainable financial mechanisms. … Without planned investments in vocational training, the consequences will be:
• a limitation or even a decrease in access to quality drinking water supply, sanitation or irrigation services,
• impossibility for service managers to prevent problems,
• quick degradation of the installations that will have to be rebuilt,
• inability to operate the facilities at full capacity,
• ultimately reduction of the effectiveness of the ODA public funds.
There are hundreds of thousands of employees, at all levels, but mainly at a low level, and only speaking their local language, who are employed in water management over the world. [Training] needs are thus huge …
It all refers to water, but clearly it’s applicable to sanitation.
Remember what Professor Derek Bok (a former president of Harvard University) said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.