The rationale behind ICE WaRM’s capacity building in developing countries

ICE WaRM is committed to the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals, through capacity building using its interdisciplinary capability in Water Resources Management, Education and Training and International Development.

It is through the educational blending of these three knowledge bases that a coherent, technically competent and developmentally focused programme can be delivered, as indicated in the diagram below:

The experience and skills of ICE WaRM, and more importantly those of our partners, are targeted at addressing energy, water and food security, particularly through the advancement of gender equity and robust monitoring and evaluation of activities.

ICE WaRM’s approach to change and strategic outcomes is through experience in building capacity as a catalyst for enhanced transboundary water resources management. In developing capacity building programmes, considerable effort is invested into updating and maintaining an understanding of the current water-related environment, and defining practical pathways from this to a realistic target outcome as a result of efforts in capacity building.  For example, the current environment in the South Asia region in the area of water resources management will be advanced by trust rather than resorting to legal courses of action early on in a process.  International experience has shown that attempts to resolve transboundary water management issues through adversarial legal processes severely limit the range of possible outcomes and seldom resolve the underlying causes of disagreement.  ICE WaRM’s approach is to use capacity building activities as a platform to initiate productive relationships and to broaden the perspectives of key stakeholders, in order to make collaborative approaches more possible, as indicated in the diagram below.

ICE WaRM’s work continues and extends like-minded programmes already in place wherever possible, as well as strengthening local and international networks of capacity building organisations and associated partners which can contribute resources and experience, i.e. building on recent and current successes. Of course, this is within the framework of necessarily limited term projects and constrained resourcing, and the requirement to demonstrate short-term impact in what is actually a long term undertaking.  ICE WaRM’s work in capacity building is designed to facilitate participating individuals and organisations along a continuum, from harvesting information, through imparting knowledge, skill development, developing understandings, to their practical application in water resources management programmes.  Usually, the activities of ICE WaRM’s programmes are initially located at the early stages of this continuum.  Important relationships between key institutions and individuals in the region are then formed and developed, and trust in Australia as a partner in this process is fostered; these relationships are delicate and require nurturing and support.

Hence the focus of initial activities is on building networks and sharing information.  This process also includes clearly identifying blockers and enablers of future stages of the work we plan to undertake as part of a long-term commitment to change. This work is part of an ongoing process, and can be accelerated with intensive programmes in the knowledge and skills phase, including technical skills and policy dialogues, while continuing to focus on the increasing need to establish trust across a broad set of networks.  In terms of the diagram above, the success of our capacity building programmes can be inferred by identifying specific expected outcomes on the right-hand side of the diagram.

We would welcome feedback or case studies that may assist in long term, sustainable change.

Dr Ian Reid – Education Services Manager