Morocco’s water supply is under pressure due to increased population, urbanization, economic development, and climate change. Recognizing water as a national security issue for Morocco and its neighbors, USAID and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have partnered to use innovation and technology to establish state of the art and sustainable water management practices in Morocco through the H2O Maghreb activity. In a webinar held October 2, 2019, USAID/Morocco and UNIDO representatives presented highlights of their two-year public-private development collaboration to implement cutting-edge solutions to urgent water needs while improving the skills and employability of young Moroccans in the water sector.
The presenters described how the Rabat-based project provides training and job opportunities for young people in water management, especially women, through a market-driven training program in the newly established water training hub hosted within the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE). The program offers two types of trainings, one for youth, who are trained over the course of six months, and another for professionals, who are trained via modules over the course of a few days.
Approximately 80 percent of the students participating in the activity are women. The training includes internships for Moroccan youth, many of whom receive full time job offers during their trainings.
H20 Maghreb strategically partners with private sector organizations such as FESTO DIDACTIC SE Germany and EON Reality that provide in-kind support of educational resources used in the trainings. FESTO DIDACTIC SE Germany developed the training modules participants are trained on in cooperation with ONEE. EON Reality provides a virtual reality simulation that allows students to experience what it would be like to navigate and troubleshoot difficult circumstances that could arise while working in a wastewater treatment plant. The virtual reality technology allows students to develop a better understanding of the wastewater management plant through an experiential learning process, allowing them to make mistakes and learn through challenges that emerge. A video shown during the webinar illustrates what a simulation experience looks like from a user perspective.
While H2O Maghreb was envisioned to be a replicable training activity in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, the implementers acknowledge that it can take a fair amount of time to research each community’s capacity and needs before implementation can take place. The presenters also cited the challenge of frequent changes in government that can change the priorities and trajectory of development activities such as this one.
Presenters fielded questions during the Q&A ranging from the cost for students to enter the program, the potential challenge of being able to replicate this method in other parts of the region, and whether there was a plan for tackling water supply and demand in rural parts in Morocco. Individuals also inquired about the success rates of students who earned job offers while participating in the training.
By Anjali Patel of the Water Communications and Knowledge Management Project