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Water challenges similar the world over

All over the world, it seems, people who work in environment authorities face the same challenges. Whether in a wet, green land like Canada, where International WaterCentre Education and Research Officer Nate Matthews comes from, or a dry desert country like Libya, where he has just returned to Australia from, bureaucracy and government and new ideas bring their own difficulties.
Water challenges similar the world over

Libya EGA personnel (image © N.Matthews)

Nate was part of a contingent from the IWC who went to Tripoli, Libya in May to facilitate an eight day water education program for the Libyan Environment General Authority (EGA) and water management agency staff. The International WaterCentre was commissioned by Uniquest Pty Ltd to undertake this work. The program gave an overview of integrated water management, focusing on lessons learnt in a global and local context, particularly:

  • water allocation and water quality legislation, regulation, planning and management;
  • effluent treatment disposal and reuse; and
  • demand management in urban, coastal and agricultural settings.

Seven Libyan women and eleven men from various roles and backgrounds worked with the facilitators discussing such topics as governance to improve inter-agency collaboration and policy integration, and community and industry education and participation in integrated water resource management. By the end of the program the group had produced a draft conceptual model of Libya’s water resource management and an Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.  

“It was very interesting to see how countries similar to Australia in a number of ways, and yet fundamentally different in others, deal with water challenges,” Nate said. “One challenge in Libya is that there is no water environment on the land, and this makes it easy to forget about coastal zone and marine issues. It reminds us that we always need to look at the big picture – to manage water with a fully integrated approach, regardless of how much or how little of it there is.”

After each day’s workshop, the teaching team spent the evening hours redeveloping the next day’s material – reviewing progress made and changing plans to cater for the unique needs of the group and its situation. “It was an exhausting time,” said IWC’s Dr Peter Oliver, “but a very rewarding one. We were surprised by the levels of enthusiasm and participation shown by the group. We all had a lot of fun and there was a strong sense of friendship and shared goals.”

The program facilitators were Nate Matthews and Dr Peter Oliver from the IWC, Kwame Mfodwo and Professor Paul Lant from IWC member universities, Monash and UQ, and John Bennett from the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.



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