B2.2 Training to build capacity in water professionals
Training of water professionals is an important tool for capacity building and is necessary across the full range of water organisations. The necessary change in approach can be achieved through specially designed courses, through modification of university courses and through on-the-job training programmes. Specific ideas include:
- Providing specific courses on participatory approaches and gender awareness;
- Encouraging multi-disciplinary training involving all kinds of water practitioners, including environmentalists, economists, engineers, social scientists and business majors;
- Including water management in degree programmes, in engineering and other faculties, such as economics, environmental sciences, biology, etc, or adding water as the main subject in such degree courses as the MBA;
- Developing modules for on-the-job training to keep practitionersĺ skills up-to-date;
- Developing modules to train trainers in new approaches and techniques;
- Creation of short courses on water management for policy makers, aimed specifically at senior managers without technical water backgrounds;
- Once formal training is completed, the concepts can be reinforced through a range of training activities (e.g. on-the-job training, short courses, remote learning, sabbaticals, twinning arrangements, international short courses, etc.).
The training of trainers is a specialist area, requiring an understanding of adult learning methods and the significance of the peer group (farming community, professional water community) in creating learning opportunities. Equally, training trainers in information exchange and communication requires significant input into education programmes by water resources management agencies. Methods include in-service courses, seminars and workshops. There is an increasing emphasis on electronic means of information dispersal and training techniques, especially distance learning.
Many information exchange facilitators (such as extension officers, field guides and field agents) come from biophysical science and engineering backgrounds, and need cross-disciplinary training in various skills, e.g. in communication, group interaction facilitation, accounting and programme management and counselling. Knowledge exchange systems like the GWP ToolBox provide valuable support for capacity building.
- Training of senior managers (e.g. in the value of IWRM and new water innovations) can help ensure capacity building throughout the organisation, and support for training of junior staff.
- On-the-job training is highly effective as a learning tool and agent of change in large water organisations.
- The effectiveness of training programmes can be increased if groups of people who regularly work together are trained together.
- Training of trainers requires extensive practical experience by the instructor but is a cost-effective capacity building tool.
- Trainers do not require a high level of technical capability in such topics as how to construct GIS, develop explanatory models, or select the best equipment, but they do need to understand the management of institutions and organisations.
- Experience shows that successful courses to train trainers combine practical activities with classroom learning experiences.
- Regional and even international programmes can be as useful as programmes that focus only on a single country or region.