World leaders learn latest in water, energy, city planning

The tour, which concludes in mid October, includes leaders from gov't branches, universities, development foundations and other types of NGOs.

Int'l participants in environmental technology course 311 (photo credit: Courtesy: MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for Internation)
Int'l participants in environmental technology course 311
(photo credit: Courtesy: MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for Internation)
For Naparla Bhanu Prasad, the president of an NGO in southern India, observing Israeli water distribution techniques and municipal management systems will be among the ideas that he takes back to his own local governments in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
“I came here to learn about different local sustainable development technologies from Israel,” Prasad told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. He is one of 30 men and women involved in sustainable development in their home countries who are visiting Israel for a 25-day course sponsored by the Weitz Center for Development Studies and MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry.
The tour, which concludes on October 12, includes leaders from government branches, universities, development foundations and other types of NGOs, from Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, China, India, Kenya, Kyrgzystan, Moldova, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine and Zambia.
“People who applied for the course are decision-makers in local governments,” Dr. Reut Barak, the program coordinator, told the Post. “The aim of the course is to give tools that they will be able to take home with them.”
The foreign delegates have been able to explore issues of water, waste and energy management, as well as municipal infrastructure. During their last week in Israel, they will be observing agricultural research and development and renewable energy sites in the country’s deserts, according to Barak.
Among the many tours and lectures experienced by the group thus far was a visit on Tuesday to the Mei Lod corporation, which manages water distribution and sewage treatment for the Lod area. During the visit, the delegates were able to see various company facilities as well as a neighborhood with newly installed sewage and water monitoring systems, which had been without water and sewage infrastructure for 60 years, according to a statement from the company.
For Prasad, the idea of having a water distribution system with careful metering and budgeting was critical, and is something he plans on suggesting on behalf of his Extensive Rural Poor Development Organization to his local municipalities.
“In India, there are a lot of economical disparities, [which are reflected] in the water distribution also,” he said. “The rich people bring more money to areas for all kinds of facilities. So the poor obviously are not receiving their water full time, and they have to wait with their buckets in the queue; whereas, rich people get water into their homes. The resources are not distributed equally. Here the water is equally distributed,” he added, referring to Israel.
Ivana Stosic, the general manager of Business Incubator Center in Vranje, Serbia, was impressed by the Lod company’s ability to install water monitors and enforce water payments even in neighborhoods of the city with illegal housing, an issue that affects her city’s Roma community, she said.
“We also have a lot of Roma community members with illegal houses,” Stosic told the Post, noting that residents of these homes often do not pay for their water or electricity.
“I would like when I’m back to tell to our mayor and the companies in my municipality that there are ways people can actually control water payments and that it is possible to educate people to understand that they must pay something for water.”
Meanwhile, while Stosic said she felt that there should be a stronger presence of water discounts for the disabled in Israel, as there is in Serbia, she admired the fact that discounts are given to large family households.
“This is a very good system – we don’t have this system,” she said, noting that in Serbia, exactly what the customer uses it what he or she pays for.
In addition to adopting Israel’s water advancements, Prasad said he was also interested in modeling off of the type of extensive municipal infrastructural development he saw in the city of Netanya and its development company, and that he appreciated the way the company fluidly melded housing demands and desire for open spaces into its city planning.
Altogether, Stosic said that she has benefited immensely from the lectures and programs that she has been able to attend during the program, as well as the social and tourism aspects that were part of her experience in Israel.