Saturday, 21 November 2009

Instituto Cinara

Cinara is the Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo en Abastecimiento de Agua, Saneamiento Ambiental y Conservación del Recurso Hídrico (Research and Development Institute in Water Supply, Environmental Sanitation and Water Resources Conservation) in the Faculty of Engineering at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. I’ve been a visiting professor here since 1996, but today was the first day I was interviewed (by Professor Mariela García) on what I thought was good (and bad) about Cinara. Well, I said, Cinara’s excellent because its staff are very enthusiastic and highly motivated and because they train engineers in low-cost water supply and sanitation for the poor, there aren’t enough institutes like Cinara in the world, and the world needs engineers properly trained in low-cost water supplies and sanitation for the poor − and lots of them. One of the other questions was: ‘Why are there institutes of development studies in industrialized countries but not in developing countries?’, and I said that, because the remit of IDSs is much broader than WatSan for the poor, they tend to be overpopulated with sociologists, anthropologists, planners, economists, etc. but underpopulated with engineers − people who can actually do something about providing the poor with low-cost water supplies and sanitation . Of course, these other professionals have a role, an important role, to play in WatSan for the poor (John Kalbermatten taught us this in the 1970s − see here), but you have to have engineers. As Jamie Bartram says: “Infrastructure? Yes please, and lots of it”. And who gives you Infrastructure? Engineers, that’s who.