Despite massive infrastructure investments, nearly millions of citizens in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region lack adequate access to potable water. Wastewater management in some areas is markedly worse. Once water-balanced MENA countries are now running water deficits. Regional governments and local utilities agree that the benefits of multimillion-dollar infrastructure investments will be short-lived without proper operations and maintenance (O&M) management by a capable and qualified workforce.
Arab Countries Water Utility Association (ACWUA). Supported by USAID, ACWUA has assumed regional leadership as a training provider and as a promoter of a harmonized and standardized accreditation approach. With 18 member countries and more than 100 member utilities in the MENA region, ACWUA is uniquely positioned to promote the scale-up of operator certification and training.
To achieve these results, IWSMR worked with ACWUA to build its capacity and establish a Regional Operator Certification and Training Program (ROCTP). Through pilot ROCTP courses, ACWUA introduced this innovative program which requires operators to study a standardized curriculum and demonstrate job knowledge and skills by passing professional tests leading to legally-recognized certification. ROCTP includes operator certifications in water treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment and collection, and utility management. IWSMR also assisted ACWUA in planning and piloting utility twinning exchanges focused on specific deficient utility O&M functions.
In addition, IWSMR implemented a capacity building program for ACWUA to facilitate the smooth implementation and sustainability of ROCTP and the twinning activities. The program included strategic business planning and information system assistance to the ACWUA Directorate in order to enhance organization capacity commensurate with standards necessary to receive independent USAID grants. The program included certified courses in train-the-trainers (TOT); and, curricula and test development emphasizing on-job application of practical skills.