SPECIAL CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT | PROJECTS CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT AND INNOVATION Aside from the comprehensive education and training MSc and PhD programmes that participants can follow at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Institute is also very active in a broader range of capacity development activities world-wide. A small selection is presented in the centerfold of this issue of UPDATE. Currently, there are over 140 projects being carried out by the Institute that either focus specifically on capacity development or include capacity development components. Capacity development by UNESCO-IHE consists of a range of different activities (education & training, research, advisory services and knowledge networks) that are aimed at distinct types of competences (technological, managerial, governance and learning/innovative competences). These projects are implemented with varying scope: focusing on individual organizations such as a ministry or a university (department), covering an entire sector or region, or even extending to entire communities or civil society, e.g. for awareness raising activities. There is not a single method, but a variety of approaches. Different capacity development activities are typically combined to create effective learning opportunities. The commonality among these is that the approaches are tailored to the requirements, priorities and preferences of the beneficiaries and the donors. UNESCO-IHE’s role in this process can be multi-faceted: as educator, trainer, consultant and facilitator. From research to the way that UNESCO-IHE carries out capacity development, the following insights emerge: • Any capacity development activity assumes that some local capacity already exists. By means of a needs assessment, requirements analysis, benchmarking or local market research into the demand for certain training and education, this can be identified and then built upon. • Capacity development activities are by and large carried out in collaboration with local partners. Since it can be tempting to become ‘locked-in’ by returning to the same local experts, it may require a conscious decision to ensure a good spread. • Education and training activities using a variety of didactic methods to enable different forms of learning (e.g. learning-by-doing, e-learning, mutual learning, peer learning, on-the-job-training) not only contribute to enhancing the knowledge base - they are also important tools for building up the confidence of participants such that they can use their enhanced abilities in creative and innovative ways. • The mere dissemination of textbook knowledge is considered unlikely to be self-sustaining, because it often results in ‘dead’ curricula. Learning mechanisms to generate new knowledge locally are deemed essential. Projects that include research activities involving local researchers and train capacity to prepare project proposals (how to analyze a problem, generate a research or project proposal and identify where to submit it) can help to address this problem. • True bottom-up, rather than institutional top-down, ap- 16 email@example.com proaches to knowledge networking are particularly suited to the process of knowledge production and dissemination. They connect water professionals by linking them through their professional interest and in this way result in collaboration among organizations and even countries. At this scientific level, a more neutral understanding of (e.g. transboundary) issues is often made possible than at a political level. Whilst information and communication technologies can play a great facilitating role, face-to-face meetings are considered indispensible for setting up and sustaining knowledge networks in the long term. • Getting people to think broader, outside their own discipline, is deemed highly beneficial but difficult it practice. It has proved easier to link the often separate worlds of public sector agencies, knowledge institutes and the private sector by broadening the project scope and providing joint trainings, e.g. for local ministry staff and academics. • Nation-specific incentive systems and norms can have a considerable impact on how and what participants learn. Public institutions can induce or hinder processes of national competence building. A good understanding of the institutional and political landscape is therefore essential for being able to provide effective capacity development activities. • There is frequently insufficient local capacity in the social sciences, both in terms of quantity and quality. It can prove difficult to find contractors with social science departments in the beneficiary countries. This places limits on the attention that can be given to building the ‘enabling environment’ - and on the possibilities for innovative partnerships - for capacity development. The key element emerging from this is UNESCO-IHE’s appreciation that a focus on individual actors and organizations in the water sector is not sufficient. The development process to which knowledge and learning are central, depends on individual as well as collective qualifications and competencies. Along with the acquisition of technological and managerial competences, institutional and social innovation is required to create an environment that is stable and enabling to achieve the water-related ambitions of developing countries and countries in transition. This resonates with the importance placed by other sectors on dynamic interactive learning within and between organizations for bringing about success in innovative capacity development.
SPECIAL CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT | FIELD REPORT HIGHLIGHTS IN THE CARIBBEAN On a sultry Caribbean night in Trinidad, after a full day of discussions on the future of water education in the region, UNESCO-IHE staff members are at Satchmo’s, enjoying the excellent cocktails and Calypso music. “Could there be a more ideal location for a ‘Mission Abroad’?”, you may wonder, as the waiter sets another mojito on your table. But how do the Caribbean people see their islands? Enjoyable nightlife, white beaches, tropical forests: the Caribbean may seem like paradise. People here tend to take things as they come: hurricanes, congested roads, or a sudden dip in income. Even so, water remains a frequent topic on radio or TV, in meetings with professionals, and in local cafés over a meal of Trinidad doubles (frybread with curried chickpeas). Clean drinking water is never in reliable supply, while rainy-season flooding causes property damage and rising seas may threaten coastal towns and beach resorts. The Caribbean islands are ill-prepared to combat their water problems. Water pipes need repairs and whole water supply systems may have to be re-designed. Sanitation on many of the larger islands has not been modernized; on many smaller islands, proper sewers are a luxury enjoyed by the happy few. Flood control structures in streams are rare and watershed management is only just starting. There is a serious backlog in coastal defense works, and environmental issues in the precious aquatic environments are not yet fully addressed, due in part to a lack of staff capacity in the Caribbean water sector. Many of the most talented Caribbean water professionals have left for universities overseas and are now pursuing careers abroad. In 2006, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) of Trinidad and Tobago and UNESCO-IHE signed a Cooperation Agreement on staff capacity development in the Caribbean water sector. Dr Stephen Fletcher and Marilyn Crichlow from the WASA Water Resources Agency and Jan Nonner from UNESCO-IHE drafted a project proposal, which also involved the Faculty of Engineering of the University of the West Indies on Trinidad, the Faculty of Technology of the University of Guyana, and the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2008, the proposal on Capacity Building for Water Programs in Higher Education in the Caribbean (CapCar) was presented to EDULINK, the EU initiative to boost education in developing countries; it was selected for implementation at the end of 2008. The three-year project, which ends December 2011, has a total budget of 500,000 Euros, 85% provided by the EU and 15% by DUPC (programmatic cooperation between the Dutch government and UNESCO-IHE) and the Caribbean countries. Highlights in the Caribbean project activities included visits by a multi-disciplinary UNESCO-IHE team to Trinidad and Guyana to discuss policies, curriculum development, IT and equipment, and short courses (http://www.unesco-ihe.org/cwc). The first activity, in which UNESCO-IHE delegates interacted with regional scientific and water sector staff, was characterized by a good atmosphere and excellent opportunities to sample the Caribbean flavour. The second initiative involves staff capacity training, focusing on hydrology and water resources, river and coastal engineering, and water and wastewater engineering. With 6 of the 9 scheduled courses already completed, UNESCO-IHE lecturers saw Caribbean water sector staff participate enthusiastically. There was also much appreciation for the local project coordinators in Trinidad and Guyana, who did an excellent job of organizing the courses and making the participants feel at home. firstname.lastname@example.org 17