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8.7 Training (Topic g)

Regionally there is a lack of adequately trained national personnel within the water sector at all levels. Many utilities still rely on expatriates to plan, operate and maintain water sector systems and project developments.

Most utilities have some sort of in-house training for trades personnel. Treatment plant operators are often trained overseas through both utility and bilateral funding. The American Samoan utility provides training to other American associated SIDS using its own staff. Buddy systems have been established where personnel are exchanged to learn from each otherís utilities. This system has appeared to work well.

Water sector engineers and planners are generally educated overseas on bilateral scholarships. The University of Lae in PNG has a school of engineering and has produced water sector engineers that currently still practice in the Region. However many trained national engineers and planners have left the Region in pursuit of higher compensating employment in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Hence it is not only training but the retention of trained personnel that has been an on going problem in the Region.

In past years PNG has had the facilities to provide water sector training. However these facilities are now not Regionally utilisation to its potential.

The University of the South Pacific located in Fiji and the University of Guam contributes to the Regions human resources development. Both universities run environment programs but neither have specific water sector engineering programs. Guam University does have a Water & Environment Research Institute.

Often decision makers make discussions that are outside their field of expertise because they are put in position as being the best person available.

Regional organisations like SOPAC, SPREP and SPC have provided water sector training opportunities and short term expertise to the member countries. The Water Resources Unit at SOPAC currently tries to coordinate Regional water sector activities and develop donor funded programs and projects. SPREP also runs programs to assist in waste management. Regional workshop like that ran by SOPAC on Appropriate and Affordable Sanitation for Small Islands bring together and expose local practitioners to current sanitation ideas.

The newly formed Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWA) potentially will be able to assist with training activities. It gives utilities an opportunity to discuss comment problems that may have been solved by another utility in the Region.

UN originations like UNEP, UNDP, WHO, UNESCO and ESCAP are all potential sources for Regional training opportunities and have already contributed much to human resources development in the Region.

Not only is more and better training required in the Region but better incentives by utilities and governments to retain qualified personnel.


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