The Arab Water Academy (AWA)

The Arab Water Academy is a specialized institute established to articulate, design and implement new training initiatives to enhance capacity building in the water sector. The Academy is a significant investment in the human capital of decision makers, professionals and scientists working in the water sector and associated fields.

By providing a venue for the implementation of world-class training programs in an atmosphere of academic excellence, the Academy builds the capacity of the water management and planning sectors throughout the Arab region and beyond.

How was the Academy established?

The Academy is the brainchild of the Cairo-based Arab Water Council (AWC). Recognizing the need for new approaches in learning and knowledge sharing within the water sector of the Arab region, the Council’s governing body and specialized committees worked hard and long to set up the Academy.

Assisting the Council in this strategic endeavour were the two institutions selected to host the Academy. One of these was the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), which made a successful bid to AWC to host the Academy with support from the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), an agency of the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). ICBA, which helps water-scarce countries improve the productivity, social equity and environmental sustainability of water use, places special emphasis on saline and marginal quality water within the context of integrated water resource management (IWRM).

In order to establish an innovative program in water management training and field application, another important partner was needed. This was Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), an arm of the government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. EAD’s expertise in water and environmental issues was an important consideration when selecting a suitable venue for the Academy, which is located in Abu Dhabi.

The Academy, formally created in December 2007 during the third meeting of the AWC in Dubai, UAE, became operational in 2008. Initial financial support for the Academy was provided by both EAD and the World Bank. However, it is expected that many regional and international donors will provide additional support in the years to come.


What is the Academy mission?

The Academy addresses the daunting challenges posed by the deteriorating water supply throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a two-pronged approach:

  • Enhance human capacity for water strategies and policies related to integrated water resource management beyond conventional education and training provided by other institutions.
  • Support active implementation of the learning process so that water management in the Arab world can better meet the needs of societies.

Where does the Academy work?

The Academy is hosted by EAD at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Logistical and technical support are available from ICBA, which maintains an office in Abu Dhabi as well as its headquarters in Dubai. Importantly, many of the Academy’s training modules are conducted in various Arab countries in addition to the UAE. Although the Academy focuses on delivering its products and services to the Arab region first and foremost, it may gradually expand its scope to include other regions of the world.

How is the Aacademy work organized?


The work program of the Academy consists of intensive professional and innovative learning modules of 1- or 2-week duration with follow-up in the form of continuous learning modules through virtual knowledge communities. More specifically, the learning program includes eight options to meet a range of learning needs.

: learn-by-doing mode working with scientists (2-6 months).

  • Intensive, short-term professional courses using the business school model. This approach will allow for in-depth analysis of salient institutional and technical issues within the case study framework.
  • Internships
  • Affiliations with universities provide opportunities for students to conduct graduate field research on strategic issues. These include studies leading to an MBA degree in water management, understanding the political economy of water management and sharing findings of case studies with university faculties and students.
  • Real-time interactive knowledge-sharing events using modern IT and e-tools.
  • Virtual knowledge communities that address strategic issues affecting the sector, including regional concern and cross-boundary water management.
  • On-demand change management and coaching services.
  • A virtual marketplace for new knowledge and expertise through an internet-based system and strong links with regional and national water centres.
  • Partnerships with regional radio and television to use unutilized broadcasting channels for the transmission of knowledge to broader audiences in societies through ‘edu-training’ programs (ie, talk shows, games, competitions and the like).


The Academy’s learning program is decentralized according to topics, facilities, training expertise, logistics and interests through strong partnerships with universities and specialized national water programs in coordination with national and regional research and training institutes. A networking approach will facilitate this decentralization and promote regional interchanges of knowledge and expertise.

What are the challenges the Academy faces?

Despite significant diversity of landscape and climate, few of the region’s countries can meet current water demand. Thus, as both the region’s economies and its population structures undergo change over the next few decades, demand for water supply and irrigation services will change accordingly, as will the need to address industrial and urban use.

Additionally, some 60% of the region’s water flows across international borders, necessitating careful cross-border policy analysis.

These challenges facing the water sector necessitate the establishment of modern, interdisciplinary learning programs aimed at building human capacity in the region. The Arab Water Academy has become a reality in order to effectively deal with these issues.

These challenges include understanding the changing trends in water supply (both quality and quantity), dealing with growing urban populations, meeting the need for increased accountability, protecting the environment and monitoring the shifting roles of agriculture and rural development in national economies.


Who does the Academy work with?


The Academy works in close partnership with professionals from various Arab countries. The implementation of the learning program will be the responsibility of the executive management of AWA.


An Executive Committee and the Board of the AWA will oversee the activities of the Academy.

This piece is taken from the website of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture.

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