Introduction

Water is one of the most important topics of the 21st century all over the world and even in Latin America. The most important keywords are:
  • water scarcity and water quality as well as
  • availability and access to drinking water.
Whereas water scarcity presents a regionally specific problem, water quality is an overall problem in Latin America. The lack of waste water treatment plants is one of the reasons; 86% of untreated waste water flows into the rivers. There is not only need for more treatment plants, but also for more qualified engineers and professionals for operation and maintenance.

Another problem is environmental awareness. In different sectors of the society (agriculture and industry) the environmental awareness is weak.

Finally availability and access to drinking water is a big problem in Latin America. Availability and access to drinking water in the partner countries varies between 50% in rural areas and 90% in urban centres.

A sound water policy is dynamic and demands a certain mass of qualified personnel in all levels of science, administration and technology, able to develop local solutions to the specific problems of the countries. At present a lot of universities do not react appropriately to these demands. MSc students graduate in field of water and environmental management, but are not sufficiently prepared to cope with the increasing and demanding needs in these areas, because often the curricula and research topics are of high theoretical content and do not consider holistic approaches and interdisciplinary work.
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