Practitioners and stakeholders in MENA region meet to build capacity on data processing and reporting
The Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange took place on November 22-24, 2016, at the Intercontinental City Stars in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop was organised within the framework of the regional project "Sustainable Use of Transboundary Water Resources and Water Security Management" (WATER SUM), which addresses water-related challenges and promotes regional cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The WATER SUM project is implemented by the REC with funding from the Government of Sweden.
The workshop is part of a series of activities related to water resources protection carried out through the project’s WATER POrT component (Water Resources Management Good Practices and Knowledge Transfer). The event brought together water practitioners dealing with data on water resources, as well as water and environmental authorities, experts, researchers and stakeholders responsible for reporting and data exchange at national and international level. Over three days, and in the course of six tailored working sessions, the workshop facilitated the exchange of best practices and experience between Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and other MENA countries, and also served as a foundation for building common protocols for data exchange.
Dr. Ragab Abdel Azim, First Undersecretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt, opened the event with a welcome note on behalf of the host country. He highlighted the usefulness of the regional workshop for exchanging experiences and know-how among practitioners and stakeholders hailing from countries from the vulnerable MENA region. He recognised the role that both the WATER SUM project and the REC can play in Egypt and the MENA region as a whole in speeding up processes and identifying water management priorities. In concluding, Dr. Abdel Azim addressed the challenges linked to water scarcity facing Egypt and the broader region, while stressing the need to collect and process precise and reliable data in order to develop concise reports and facilitate data exchange.
“Water is an essential resource and element for fostering national and regional sustainable growth”, said Mihallaq Qirjo, acting REC Deputy Executive Director and WATER SUM Project Director. “We should make full use of the potential offered by water diplomacy and water governance to increase stability across neighbouring regions, such as Europe and MENA.” Qirjo expressed special thanks to the Government of Egypt for its hospitality and cooperation in staging this regional event, and to the Government of Sweden for financially supporting the implementation of the WATER SUM project. He also underlined the role that the REC can play in efficiently contributing to cooperation in the Mediterranean Basin by building on the current flagship projects through which the REC is promoting the sustainable use of water resources, as well as through established and new partnerships with key stakeholders across the MENA region.
The opening session set the stage for the workshop’s technical sessions: national and international experts presented several case studies and data processing experiences from MENA and other regions. A draft data processing and exchange protocol was introduced for receiving feedback from participants. This feedback will be analysed and considered prior to next year's delivery of the final protocol to beneficiaries.
Key messages collected during the workshop include the following:
- There is substantial, underlying knowledge at national level about data processing.
- Practitioners share a high level of willngness to shore up mutually beneficial cooperation, and this can be supported by: fine-tuning communication and procedural tools and methods for strenghening inter-institutional coordination at national level and, subsequently, at international level; working together to define a harmonised and agreed methodology; developing a common platform for exchanging information and nurturing networking; and exploring means and standardisation for addressing shared challenges.
- There is a need to facilitate access to information and public participation through legal instruments.
- The development of new, advanced methods and techniques should go hand in hand with collecting and analysing real observation data.
- Multilateral frameworks for cooperation in water resources management used in other regions can be examples on which the MENA region can build.
A detailed summary, as well as workshop documents and materials pertaining to the regional workshop, will be published in due course on the WATER POrT trainings/workshops webpage.
The Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange was organised by the REC with the support of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt and of the Arab Water Council (AWC).