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B2 BUILDING INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY - Developing human resources

Institutional capacity building is a means of enhancing performance. In the context of IWRM it represents the sum of efforts to nurture, enhance and utilise the skills and capabilities of people and institutions at all levels, so that they can work towards the broader goal. Capacity is needed at two levels: capacity to plan and develop IWRM programmes, and operational capacity. Capacity in institutions is needed to plan, to regulate, to provide services and to allocate resources.

IWRM requires an appropriate policy and legal framework (A1, A2), financing system (A3), organisational framework (B1) and adequate management instruments (C1 through to C8). To make these frameworks, systems and instruments work, the different parties involved need to possess sufficient information and expertise as well as incentives to function effectively and efficiently. This combination of instruments, skills, resources and incentives results in institutional capacity tailored to the needs of each institution. Capacity building programmes should be preceded by an assessment of both existing capacity and the proposed management tools. In addition to the human capacity, which is the focus of this set of tools, capacity means a whole range of physical resources for example, monitoring equipment, a computer or a vehicle to enable regulators to visit sites for inspection.

Capacity building is needed at many levels: in civil society (B2.1), for water professionals in all areas - both public and private water organisations, local and central government, water management organisations (B2.2) and in regulatory organisations (B2.3). Reorientation in the thinking of water professionals is important at all levels, as the ideas of IWRM have developed rapidly over the past twenty years.

Water managers need to develop an understanding of the concept of IWRM, its potential benefits and how best to put it into practice. In addition, water professionals need to acquire skills to apply specific (often sectoral) management tools, to make regulations, to set up financing systems, etc. Specialist training courses in such topics as social assessment (C2.7), designing and running participatory and gender sensitivity processes, dispute management and consensus building (C5), institutional design, policy profiling, and working with the media can be valuable.

Additional tools for improving capacity include social change instruments (C4) and information and communication tools (C8). Building participatory capacity often needs consensus building and other conflict management techniques (see C5). In practical terms, building capacity in human and institutional resources costs money so secure financing is important.

Both individuals and institutions need to be provided with incentives to change their practices and approaches; senior management needs to signal the importance of training by according high status and remuneration for those who provide training in their organisations. Organisational development may be needed to ensure that water management organisations and their managers are open to new ideas and are willing to accept public input and the need to co-operate with other stakeholders.

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