Report finds gaps in WASH human resource capacity for developing economies

According to a new report launched by International Water Association, shortages of human resources in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector can potentially undermine the progress made by many countries to increase access to water and sanitation over the last few decades.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS, Sept. 24, 2014 -- According to a new report launched today by International Water Association (IWA), shortages of human resources in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector can potentially undermine the progress made by many countries over the last few decades to increase access to water and sanitation.

A failure to address these shortages can impede socio-economic development in those countries that remain off-track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) water and sanitation targets, and it raises serious questions about how realistic the attainment of any potential WASH targets under the new Sustainable Development Goals will be.

Accordingly, analysis suggests that many countries may need to double their existing capacity in the coming years and further develop their skills to support the attainment of universalaccess.

"There are not enough appropriately-skilled water professionals to support the attainment of universal access to safe water and sanitation," said Ger Bergkamp, IWA executive director. "The progress many countries have made in the provision of safe water and adequate sanitation is at risk if we do not act now and invest in the people who can make universal access a reality."

Some of the findings indicate, for example, that:

  • In 10 countries reviewed, there was a shortfall of 778,000 trained water and sanitation professionals needed to reach universal coverage.
  • Mozambique needs to double the number of trained water professionals -- an additional 11,900 people. Sixty two percent of the shortfall was in the sanitation sector.
  • Ninety eight percent of Ghana's human resource shortfall was in the sanitation sector.
  • Women are massively underrepresented in the sector; on average, 16.7 percent of the water and sanitation sector workforce in 15 countries was female.
  • Bangladesh, a country close to achieving MDG water and sanitation targets, requires an additional 44,000 water sector professionals to reach universal coverage.

The report provides an overarching recommendation for the development of national capacity development strategies that have high-level political buy-in with involvement from multiple actors to ensure sustained, adequate professional and technical capacity.

Moreover, the report also calls for concerted action at a regional and global level to collect relevant human resources data and perform further research to strengthen the evidence base on which action plans and strategies can be built.

The full report can be viewed at www.iwa-network.org.

See also:

"Call for South Africa to step up water/sanitation efforts"

"New research to encourage better water resource management in developing nations"

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