Summary Report - Training Course on Phytotechnology for Wetland Management
Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Project
International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC), UNEP DTIE
6 - 16 December 2004
Water quality degradation, originating from point and non-point sources, lack of sanitation, and ecosystem alteration, is one of the main global environmental problems. Various technological and environmental approaches ranging from high-tech to low cost applications have been designed to address this problem.
Phytotechnology(1), being a part of environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs), are becoming more widely applied in efforts to enhance water quality, due to their low cost, environmental efficiency and socioeconomic relevance. Artificially constructed wetlands and related systems, as well as phytoremediation practices, are effective means to improve water quality when complemented with sound ecosystem management approaches.
(1): The general definition of Phytotechnology refers to the application of science and engineering utilizing the environmental benefits that vegetation provides to solve environmental and developmental issues, while at the same time providing for alternative sources of fuels, goods, forage, labour, etc. The application of Phytotechnologies can lead to a significant improvement in water quality, enhanced biodiversity, improved agricultural production and potential bioenergy generation, as well as remediation of degraded ecosystems.
The training course was technical in nature, focusing on the application of Phytotechnology and related subjects for water quality improvement, with particular relevance to the Iraqi Marshlands. 27 representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works, Ministry of Science and Technology, the academia, and Southern Governorates of Iraq actively participated in the training activity. Lecturers were provided by international experts, including the winner of the 2004 Stockholm Water Prize, as well as experts from Egypt. Handbooks were prepared for the participants, and distributed prior to the training sessions. Complementary information such as publications and software were also made available. Cairo University served as the organizer of the training course.
The lectures focused on technical aspects of natural and artificially constructed wetlands and related systems, pollution control and eutrophication modeling, phytoremediation, environmental assessment, integrated water resource management, and Ecohydrology as part of environmental management and water quality control.
The lectures included presentations and interactive sessions that utilized computers and specialized software. After each lecture, a summary was presented to articulate the links between the subjects to ensure the continuity of the programme. A resume was provided in Arabic after each lecture.
Site Visits and Demonstrations
A field trip was organized to Lake Manzala to visit one of the largest artificially constructed wetlands in Egypt -and the Middle East- designed to treat wastewater from drainage originating from the City of Cairo. The participants had access to the different sections of the wetland, and had an opportunity to receive information about its design, functions and performance directly from the responsible officers and experts in charge of the facility. This Lake Manzala project is a GEF-UNDP Government of Egypt project.
Working groups from the different participating ministries together with experts from the academia discussed the application of Phytotechnology for wetland management in Iraq, with particular emphasis on the Marshlands. The working groups provided a forum for active interactions among the participants, identifying points of agreement and differences as well as the needs and requirements for the application.
The Egyptian officials who greeted the participants included: Dr. Shaden Abdel Gawad, Deputy Director of the National Water Research Centre representing the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources; Dr. Mawaheb Abul-Azm, Head of Environmental Quality Sector, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Ministry of State for Environment; and Dr. Shaden Abdel Gawad, Deputy Director, National Water Research Center, Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.