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H2O Maghreb Newsletter Spring 2020

Dear reader,

We hope that this finds you healthy and safe despite the circumstances.

It is with great pleasure that we share with you the first edition of the H2O Maghreb newsletter, filled with exciting updates and behind-the-scenes perspectives on the project.

One major update we are thrilled to announce is that the H2O Maghreb project will be extended until April 2021 with additional funds from USAID. This extension will give our team the opportunity to continue existing training in Morocco and expand its initial objectives through replications in Morocco and across the MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa regions. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress as we move forward into this new phase of implementation.

For this first edition, we have decided to focus on the fundamental role that women play in the H2O Maghreb project, and the promising implications that this has for the future of water management. We also highlight the project's ability to adapt to distance learning during the time of COVID-19 by using digital tools.

We hope that this newsletter will give you as much joy to read as we had in pulling it together. Please feel free to share this newsletter with your contacts and do not hesitate to reach out if you would like any additional information about anything you read here.

Happy reading,

The H2O Maghreb Team

Women in the Water Sector

The future of sustainable water management is...female!

They’re young, they’re motivated, and an overwhelming majority of them are women. This is the profile of the three intakes of H2O Maghreb trainees, who have participated in the six-month training program in sustainable water management and sanitation housed at the National Office for Water and Electricity (ONEE) in Rabat, Morocco.

In Morocco, women are considerably less likely than men to work outside of the home. This gender disparity is particularly apparent in middle-income jobs and in technical fields, which are seen as “men’s work”. At the same time, Morocco, and the MENA region more broadly, are grappling with methods to respond to increasing water demands amidst growing scarcity. The lack of industry professionals possessing the necessary skillsets to address this challenge remains a key barrier to enacting sustainable water management practices. H2O Maghreb has committed to working to boost women’s employability and challenge well-established gender norms by targeting their recruitment efforts towards young women with the potential to excel in this technical industry while also protecting this highly-valued resource.

Since the launch of H2O Maghreb, women continue to make up the largest share of applicants and represent over 75% of the program graduates. Most are under the age of 25 years old. Within six months of completing the training program, nearly all participants were employed in relevant and stable positions, namely as full-time water or sanitation technicians with municipal water operators or autonomous water authorities based across eight different regions of the country. With this new female fleet of highly-skilled water management professionals, H2O Maghreb is contributing to strengthening the capacity of the Moroccan water sector to sustainably manage this precious resource and combat impending scarcity. Read more here +

"I decided to participate in this training because I am passionate about the water and environmental sector and am always looking to develop my knowledge in this field... I would advise every Moroccan woman who wants to launch her career, whatever the sector, to make sure she chooses a field she enjoys. We have to do what we are passionate about to enjoy our work." - Chaymaa Nouga, H2O Maghreb Graduate & Drinking Water Network Technician, ONEE, Rabat
Compared to previous intakes, trainees from the third (most recent) intake of H2O Maghreb are from 7 different regions.

Adaptations & Resilience in the Time of COVID-19

Since mid-March 2020, Morocco has been operating under strict rules of confinement in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 virus, with schools and non-essential businesses expected to remain closed at least until the end of June 2020.

In March, as businesses and schools began closing down, H2O Maghreb quickly set up a series of digital tools to swiftly adapt to the new learning arrangements imposed by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. H2O Maghreb is providing unlimited access to an online training platform, which offers a combination of complementary water and wastewater treatment modules. This platform is accessible to the 11 trainers and 24 trainees from any device that can be connected to wi-fi, which helps to ensure that the remote training sessions are as inclusive as possible.

Aziza Zerouali, a trainee in the fourth cohort, expressed her gratitude to the H2O Maghreb team for successfully managing the shift to distance learning: “Thank you so much H2O Maghreb, I am still just as proud and satisfied as ever with the quality of our training!”.With the team’s rapid response and transition to digital methods, H2O Maghreb managed to avoid any unnecessary lapse in training delivery.

H2O Maghreb: A Flagship Project Driving Innovation

H2O Maghreb is pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in a number of conferences, workshops, and official high-level visits over the past year, which has allowed the project to share best practices and lessons learned with a wide-range of international actors from both private and public sectors. In July 2019, USAID/Morocco delivered a presentation of the project to the U.S. Congressional Virtual Reality Group in Washington D.C. H2O Maghreb was presented as a model for the Agency to follow in using virtual reality technology to improve the quality of technical training programs. The success of the H2O Maghreb project has merited visits by high-level officials from USAID travelling to Morocco. Among these included visits by Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID on October 7th, 2019, and Andrew Plitt, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East on January 28th, 2020 (pictured below), who each had the chance to tour the International Institute of Water and Sanitation (IEA) at ONEE and the training space used by H2O Maghreb, where they met with program trainees and trainers. Both Mr. Pitt and Mr. Milligan were highly enthusiastic about the project and greatly appreciated their visits to the H2O Maghreb facilities.

World Water Week 2019

The H2O Maghreb team organized a “sofa” panel debate as part of Stockholm International Water Institute’s World Water Week 2019. The panel brought together project partners, including representatives from Festo Didactic, ONEE, and USAID Washington, to share the objectives of the project, including the development of new curricula to up-skill the Moroccan water management sector, establish a state-of-the-art demonstration and training hub at the National Office for Water and Electricity (ONEE) in Morocco, and contribute to the development of a national qualification framework to establish a new post-secondary education scheme for water and waste water technicians.

“A Public Private Development Partnership (PPDP) is about complementarity among partners to reach excellence in innovation and development. H2O Maghreb is supporting the Moroccan national investment plans in water technology, while creating jobs among youth by offering continuing and basic technician education.” - Nader Imani, Executive VP of Global Education at Festo Didactic

Interest in Scaling-Up H2O Maghreb’s Best Practices in Morocco

Since learning about its innovative approaches and accelerated six-month program, other Moroccan training institutions, including the Office of Vocational Training and Employment Promotion (OFPPT), have taken great interest in exploring ways to further integrate H2O Maghreb’s various training methods more broadly into national training programs. “The H2O Maghreb project is one of the most innovative and original projects ever implemented at ONEE. The project is an important flagship project that has opened up the possibility for greater innovation and modernization of the internal training system at ONEE,” states Abderrafi Mardi, Coordinator at the International Institute of Water and Sanitation (IEA) at ONEE. The International Institute of Water and Sanitation (IEA) in Rabat where H2O Maghreb is based, is proud to be one of the first institutes in Morocco to use virtual reality in its training programs. The virtual reality technology, developed by project partners Festo Didactic and EON Reality, is one of the unique pillars of the H2O Maghreb training program. Furthermore, IEA’s equipment is among the most cutting edge for practical water training, thanks to the integration of the EDS® Water Management system developed by Festo Didactic.

“The H2O Maghreb project has been a demonstrable success, showcasing the versatility of virtual reality to design meaningful training outcomes that can benefit society at large through youth employment and positive environmental impacts.” - Anna Lejerskar, President of Learn for Life at EON Reality

SAADIA

“I didn’t choose my career, my career chose me,” confided Saadia, Trainer in water sanitation at the International Institute of Water and Wastewater (IEA) at the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE). Being a woman in this technical, traditionally male-dominated field did not discourage Saadia, who has always thrived on overcoming the challenges of an ever-evolving industry: “I was attracted by the water sector because we are always learning. Every day we learn new things, and the next day we realize that there is still so much to learn.”

Read the full story here +

LOUBNA

Loubna is a Senior Technician in water quality at the Moroccan National Office for Electricity and Water (ONEE). In addition to her responsibilities monitoring and managing operations at the Bouregreg pilot station, Loubna is also a Trainer at ONEE’s Institut International de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement (IEA) in Rabat. In this capacity, she has been supporting the H2O Maghreb training program and teaching sanitation. Loubna remembers discovering her interest in the sanitation sector during a visit to an ONEE treatment system as part of her studies. “I really loved the environment and I asked God to one day work at ONEE,” Loubna recalls. After years of hard work and perseverance, Loubna now works at the same treatment system that she visited all those years ago.

Read the full story here +

H2O Maghreb is bringing together the public and private sector to provide innovative training and equipment to promote sustainable water management while also improving the skills and employability of young Moroccans. The H2O training program uses a holistic approach, combining theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience using the most recent technological innovations to prepare the next generation of water management professionals to respond to the growing challenges of today and tomorrow.

The H2O Maghreb activity is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with EON Reality, Festo Didactic, ONEE (Office National d'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable), Moroccan Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water, and the Moroccan Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research.

This newsletter was produced with the financial support of USAID. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the H2O Maghreb project team and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or any other H2O Maghreb partners.

Created By
Clara McLinden
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H2O Maghreb