Improving water quality in the region: from capacity building to capacity development and developing standards for the water sector


The pressures of population and economic growth and climate change are expected to further exacerbate water stress in the Member States of RCUWM. Water quality is an important aspect of water management that needs further efforts on the national as well as regional levels. There is a need to improve national policies and regional cooperation with the ultimate aim to improve water quality with particular attention to urban water quality. Water quality labs and the data that they are produced are very important in this regard as well as the capacity of experts and officials in the field of water quality.

Objective/ Motivation

An important motivation of the project is the creation of a working group on water quality with the participation of representatives from interested RCUWM Member States. The objective of the project is to contribute to the development of efficient and coordinated national/regional policies with regard to water-quality aspects and improved coordination of joint assessment, monitoring, and exchange of information on water quality.

Scope and Target Groups:

Major target groups for this project are water quality managers, policymakers, and practitioners in water quality laboratories. An estimated 15 partially sponsored participants will be invited to hands-on training courses on water quality from sampling to lab-based tests in the first phase.

Outline of Activities:

A step-by-step plan is proposed to develop an effective and coordinated national/regional water quality working group. The project has three main elements:

  1. Conducting hands-on and lab-based training courses and capacity buildings
  2. Networking experts and developing a database
  3. Improving (e.g. renovation, modernization, certification) facilities and laboratories

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Organizing hands-on training courses (sampling, standard tests, emerging pollution, etc.)
  2. Renovating/establishing water quality labs in member countries
  3. Networking of water quality labs in the region and certifications
  4. Establishment of a regional reference lab in an interested member country, which will act as a reference body for water quality in the region, and will monitor the implementation of WHO programs in the area, including the quality aspects of the Water Safety Plan. It will also act as a reference for disputes on the quality of common water bodies.


A hands-on and lab-based training course for about 15 managers and experts from countries in the region is proposed to be conducted in the second half of 2023. The project will be continued with other phases until December 2024 after discussion at RCUWM Governing Board meetings.


The host organization for the first phase of the training course would be the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company (NWWEC) of Iran in close cooperation with a Reference Water Quality Lab located in Tehran Water and Wastewater Engineering Company. The lab has more than 50 years of experience and has been internationally certified for several water quality tests.

Proposed sub-project: How to prepare and develop criteria and standards in the water sector (Let’s write the standard for the standard)

It is necessary to prepare and formulate criteria and regulations in the water sector that could be as technical policies and institutional instruments to achieve IWRM goals. Standard is a discipline based on science, technologies, and humankind experiences that are utilized as principles, rules, and systems to make coordination and unity of procedure, increase mutual understanding, develop industry, save the national economy, and maintain public health and safety.

Standards play a key role in the advancement of industry and the economy. Standards in the water and wastewater industry in different steps of implementing plans including the inception, conceptual design to detailed studies, investment, launching, and operation, and also management could play an important and effective role. Thus, standards make a solid foundation for improving and developing industry and the economy.

Standard makes the scientific and technical foundation for policy making in water, sanitation, safety, and environment sectors. On the other hand, increasing the qualitative and quantitative levels of standards and technical criteria and enhancing the level of using them between stakeholders requires focusing on all steps in the standardization process. In addition to needs assessment, preparing, designing, and reviewing standards and technical criteria, dissemination of culture and education of standards, evaluating the results of utilizing them, and monitoring and supervision of the standardization process are critical.


  • Transferring knowledge and experiences about the procedure of needs assessment, development, and evaluation of standards and technical criteria in the water sector
  • Promoting the quantitative and qualitative levels of standards and technical criteria in the water sector
  • Modifying policies and educational plans and promoting how to utilize approved and published criteria and standards

Scope and Target Group:

RCUWM GB member states, particularly those countries with more experience in developing standards and technical criteria

Outline of activities:

Organizing a joint workshop entitled “How to formulate a standard to develop standards and criteria in the water sector?”. This workshop should answer some questions as stated below:

  • Achieving the best procedure of needs determination, development, and monitoring of standards and technical criteria in the water and wastewater sectors
  • How to monitor and evaluate issued criteria and promote utilizing them
  • How stakeholders contribute to the needs determination, development, and monitoring of standards and technical criteria
  • Diversity, scope, and classification of standards and technical criteria in the water and wastewater sectors
  • How to develop and monitor standards and criteria which have inter and/or multi-sectoral applications
  • How to finance the standard preparation and either how do make income?

Expected Outcomes:

  • Transferring knowledge and experiences in the field of standard preparation and criteria in the water and wastewater sector
  • Developing international collaborations in the field of needs determination and standard preparation and monitoring in the water and wastewater sector