Young Water Professionals Program launched in India to support the National Hydrology Project

India is facing a set of severe water challenges, with demand expected to exceed supply by 50 per cent before 2030 unless major water management reforms are undertaken. These challenges, combined with the fact that half of India’s population is under 25 years old, demonstrate that investment into the next generation of water leaders is essential.

In response to the Government of India’s (GoI) efforts in addressing these water challenges, the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) is supporting an India Young Water Professional (YWPs) Program. This new initiative aims to provide structured capacity development training with strategic and long-term investment to support India’s water management reforms.

The Program was launched on 5 November with a co-design workshop at the National Water Academy (NWA) in Pune, India. The workshop was attended by 47 newly recruited officers who are undergoing Induction Level Training at the NWA after being selected through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for the GoI’s Central Water Engineering Services (CWES).

The NWA’s Chief Engineer and Director Mr Yogesh Paithankar and AWP CEO Prof Nick Schofield opened the workshop, with Prof Schofield saying, “This workshop provides a unique opportunity to co-design a program to enable India’s talented young water engineers to develop the current and future professional competencies that will enable the Indian Government to meet its ambitious national water vision.”

Participants were asked what attracted them to the water sector

The workshop was facilitated by Australian Partner Ms Vanh Mixap (Yes Everyone Matters) and is based on a co-design approach to ensure the needs of the YWPs are accounted for. AWP is successfully pioneering YWP Programs in Myanmar and the Pacific and is drawing on these experiences to deliver the new initiative with direct input from the participants themselves.

The objectives of the Program are to equip the YWPs with the necessary skills, knowledge, behaviours and networks that will better enable them to contribute to the development and management of water resources in India and to address the competency needs and priorities of the water sector in India.

The Program will aim to achieve its objectives through the 70-20-10 framework, which states that three types of experience are required to learn:

  • experience 70% (learn and develop on the job);
  • exposure 20% (learn and develop through others); and
  • education 10% (learn and develop through formal training).
Workshop facilitator Ms Vanh Mixap leads a game mechanics session with input from the workshop participants
Skills, knowledge and behaviours that would contribute to India’s National Hydrology Project were brainstormed and voted on

The GoI acknowledged that to deliver its National Hydrology Project (NHP) strategies, critical enablers are the technical (know ‘what’ to do) and leadership (know ‘how’ to do) competencies of its people and the continuous development of its human resources.

During the workshop, the top three skills, knowledge and behaviours crucial to meaningfully and effectively contribute to the achievement of the NHP were identified by the YWPs. They brainstormed how to apply the 70-20-10 framework to strengthen these criteria, and identified potential indicators and monitoring methods to track the progress. Their inputs will be used to develop the detailed Program Implementation Plan moving forward.

The YWPs were proactively involved in the activities and feedback indicated that they found the co-design workshop highly valuable and innovative.

“This workshop, in particular, was a new experience as it engaged all of us fully and provided us with insight into different managerial aspects of water that needs to be addressed in future. We already knew about some current scenarios and problems but never gave real thought to it. You tapped into that and we are thankful for that,” said Rajat Deswal, YWP participant.

“The workshop was very informative and innovative. It was much more interesting and different from regular training programs. Problem-solving was turned into a game-creation and playing. Everyone was amused as well as learnt a lot from the session. It made us think and develop a belief of how complex problems can be solved just like a game. We will try to address water resources and related problems in innovative ways”, said Sandeep Bhardwaj, Assistant Director, NWA, Pune.

“The workshop was a wonderful experience. It was an innovative and participatory workshop to get the original thoughts and ideas of young participants. Ms Vanh conducted it so well that all the participants actively participated to make it a successful one,” said Dr K J Anandha Kumar, NHP, Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Participants discussed crucial skills, knowledge and behaviours that would meaningfully and effectively contribute to the achievement of India’s National Hydrology Project

To ensure that the YWP Program contributes to individuals’ competency strengthening as well as institutional strengthening, the next steps will include setting up an Advisory Committee and YWP champions from the Pilot Program in early 2020 to mentor and support the next round of YWPs, thereby enabling continuous cross-generational collaboration and learning as the program matures.

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