Although the world’s water related problems are growing increasingly and need to be addressed urgently, it is recognized that they cannot be solved by the action of Governments alone. It will also require the education, mobilization and involvement of all sections of the society. The media play an important role in swaying public opinion on key issues such as water. Helping people to better understand water issues will contribute to finding solutions. In light of the great impact that scarcity and mismanagement of water has on the whole world, the media needs to be actively exercising their influence to promote public awareness.

Based on this rationale, The Regional Centre on Urban Water Management – Tehran in close cooperation with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT) and United Nations Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) has organized the Workshop on “Professional Journalists and The Water Sector (A Regional Perspective, Iran & CIS Countries)” in Tehran, Iran, 26 – 28 November 2007.

Six journalists from electronic and print media attended this workshop from countries in Central Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; four from other Asian countries China, India, Lao PDR, and Nepal. From Iran 16 journalists participated, nearly half of them women. The international journalists already noticed during a technical field trip to the Jalalieh Water Treatment Plant that quite a few section heads they talked to were women. “I am very impressed about the high level of involvement of women in the water sector in Iran”, Dr. Kulwant Singh, Chief Technical Adviser of UN-HABITAT (New Delhi) opined throughout the workshop.

Content session by the three resource persons Mr. Rudiger Heidebreacht from the German Association of Water Wastewater and Waste, Dick de Jong from the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre from the Netherlands, and Kulwant Singh from UN-HABITAT were complemented by presentations from various journalists. Topics covered included: Engaging media on sanitation, the impacts of media on water and environment issues in Iran; the role of media in Nepal that helped the withdrawal of Seven Trent, which was granted a contract for water management of Kathmandu Valley.

The technical visit also included the Saad- Abad National Water Museum, Iranian National Broadcasting, and oldest newspaper in Tehran, Ettela’at company, which publishes stories on water and environment regularly.