The Future of Water Management in Morocco 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.
Participants consistently cite the hands-on practice offered by H2O Maghreb as contributing to their attractiveness to future employers, as they already have experience executing the tasks required for their job. Asmaa studied in the second cohort and is currently employed as a Water Quality Technician within the ONEE network. “My role is to monitor and conduct daily checks of untreated water, treated water, as well as water during the different stages of standard treatment…In my job I need to identify the metering pump’s level of reagents, which requires applying the equations I had to learn during the H2O Maghreb module on drinking water.”
In addition to hands-on practice in the classroom, H2O Maghreb also incorporates field visits and innovative technologies, such as Virtual Reality and the Environmental Discovery System® to help connect the techniques taught in the training to real-world scenarios. The H2O training program provides virtual reality simulations and small-scale replications for a wide range of water and wastewater processes and operations that allow the trainees to engage with the different elements of a water treatment plant, operate machinery, and perform emergency procedures from the comfort of the classroom. “The training helped me better understand the importance of water in Morocco through practical exercises, visiting treatment centers for wastewater and drinking water, and virtual reality,” notes Chaymaa, an H2O Maghreb graduate who currently works as a Drinking Water Technician at ONEE in Dakhla.
H2O Maghreb is paving the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future of water management in Morocco and the region. With women consistently comprising over half of each training cohort, the program demonstrates the strong potential of women to not only participate in but lead the way in technical industries, such as water and wastewater management. The quality and relevance of the modules, the practical experience, and the level of expertise demonstrated by the trainers all contribute to H2O Maghreb’s high level of satisfaction among female graduates, who believe that completing this training has improved their professional opportunities. For the women who have completed the training, many expressed a desire to reach a managerial level, recognizing not only their own potential, but also the importance of the work they are trained to do, and the level of responsibility involved. When asked about future plans, Asmaa responded, “I wish to continue my career at ONEE as a Water Quality Technician, and why not, someday become a Manager…Water is life, so contributing to ensuring people have access to clean water will improve the situation of my community.”