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Qualified professionals are a must for sustainable water and sanitation services

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Tapio Sakari Katko, Jarmo J. Hukka, Pekka E. Pietilä, Osmo T. Seppälä
Tapio S. Katko Senior Research Fellow Adjunct professor Tampere University of Technology (TUT) P.O. Box 541, FIN-33101 Tampere, FINLAND tel. +358-3-3115 2183 fax -3115 2869 mobile 0400-737 407 e-mail:
Article: Poster:
AbstractIntroduction This paper analyses firstly the key trends and focuses of the international policies concerning water and sanitation services since the UN Conference Water for Peace in 1967, the 1977 Mar del Plata Conference, the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade 1981-1990, the more recent MDGs, and the International Water Decade for Action 2005-15 “Water for Life”. The decades had their own policies, focuses and emphases: from technical to social aspects, community participation, economic and environmental aspects, private sector participation, integrated water resources management, good governance and virtual water. The changes in emphases as such are understandable and justified. However, this paper argues that more holistic and systematic water and sanitation policies and strategies are needed for sustainable development. Secondly, the paper argues that whatever our emphases are, adequate human resources and professionals will always be needed. Objective This paper aims firstly at exploring and analysing the various policy emphases regarding especially water supply and sanitation services since the 1960s to the early 21st century. Secondly, it explores the emphases on related educational programmes and research and especially the foreseen needs for the futures. Methods The various policy emphases in water supply and sanitation related to development cooperation, as well as developed economies, have been explored in various studies by the authors as members of the Capacity Development in Water and Environmental Services (CADWES) research group based at Tampere University of Technology since the mid-1990s. Recently a questionnaire study was conducted exploring the views of 34 sector professionals representing four major interest groups: utility managers, consultants, civil servants and policy makers, and educators and researchers. Results Seppälä (2004), among others, has explored the various policy emphases in water and sanitation services over the last four decades. The recent questionnaire on education, research and social effectiveness concerning water and sanitation services shows that while the emphasis has so far been almost entirely on treatment technologies, current curricula should be expanded to cover also management, leadership, economics, policies, strategic thinking and best practices. The views of the various interest groups were largely along the same lines – no substantial differences were found. Conclusions 1. A more holistic approach to water policies should be pursued while striving towards sustainable development. 2. More critical approaches to fashionable policies like the more recently budget support should be maintained. 3. In any policy and institutional framework qualified professionals will be the basic requirement of development. 4. Current curricula on water and sanitation services should be expanded to cover such areas as strategic planning and thinking, institutional and management issues, policies and best practices.
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