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Training Course on Drinking Water Provision with Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) and Water Quality Management of the Iraqi Marshlands - Summary Report


Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Project
International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC), UNEP DTIE
Osaka, Kyoto, and Shiga Japan
6-15 December 2006

Background

The provision of drinking water services is a critical necessity for public health protection, and is one of the priority issues for the residents of the Iraqi Marshlands. While some residents are able to purchase tanker water, many, particularly those living within the marshes, obtain drinking water directly from the marshes without treatment. Outbreaks of waterborne diseases are prevalent.

While providing drinking water services is an essential need, it cannot be provided in isolation. Pollution and unsustainable water management practices in the Marshlands have resulted in incidences of water-borne diseases and have negative ecosystem impacts. There is a clear need for policies and strategies aimed at sound water quality management, including assessment and monitoring programmes, laws, regulations and institutional frameworks, and community involvement.

To help address these needs, UNEP IETC organized a training course on Drinking Water Provision with Environmentally Sound Technologies and Water Quality Management as part of the second phase of UNEP’s on-going project to support environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands. The Government of Japan committed the funds to carry out this training.


Overview

The technical training took place in three cities within Japan (Kyoto, Osaka, and Shiga) from 6-15 December 2006. The overall objectives were to increase the capacity, skills, and knowledge of Iraqi government officials on water quality standards for drinking water, desalination technologies used for water treatment, and water quality management. Nine Iraqi officials from the Ministries of Environment, Water Resources, and Municipalities and Public Works participated in the workshop.

Training was conducted through lectures, site visits and group working exercises. The participants actively took part in discussions during the lecture sessions, site visits, and group working exercises. The Global Environment Centre Foundation (GEC) assisted UNEP IETC in organizing the course. Technical support and cooperation was extended from the Water Works Bureau of Osaka City, Lake Biwa - Yodo River Water Quality Preservation Organization, and East Shiga Environment Self-governance Association (Lake Nishinoko).


Lectures

Lectures were conducted by university professors, industry experts, municipal government managers, as well as directors of nonprofit organizations and IETC staff. Topics included desalination techniques, operation and maintenance of water distribution networks, implementing and assessing ESTs, sanitation and marshland quality, and governance challenges in managing water basins.


Site Visits

Site visits were organized to provide opportunities to learn about water treatment facilities inside Japan as well as water source protection efforts applied through research and public relations/education. Facilities visited included: Niwakubo Water Treatment Plant, Biyo Center (Lake Biwa – Yodo River Water Quality Preservation Organization), and Lake Nishinoko (East Shiga Environment Self-governance Association). On-site lectures were provided by facility personnel, followed by a walk-throughs and question and answer sessions.


Group Exercises

Group exercises were organized to give participants an opportunity to apply specific concepts learned through the lectures and site visits. Exercises topics included both the preparation and implementation of water quality management plans and the undertaking of stakeholder analysis to integrate community partnerships and participation in planning. At the end of the course, the trainees delivered group presentations on one of the following two topics: 1) the technical challenges faced in implementing drinking water provision for rural areas in the Iraqi Marshlands; or 2) the main activities needed to improve water quality of the Iraqi Marshlands. A summary of the knowledge and experience obtained during the training period was also a component of the presentations.


Other

The training course coincided with UNEP’s International Workshop on Iraqi Marshlands Management. The workshop was organized to take stock of the conditions of the Iraqi Marshlands, especially to analyze results and achievements of various management initiatives on the ground, to receive feedback from Iraqi stakeholders on these initiatives, and to discuss options to further support sustainable marshlands management practices. The trainees attended the full day workshop and were afforded the opportunity to interact with high-level officials from various of Iraqi Ministries as well as representatives from donor governments.