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C8.2 Sharing data for IWRM


Almost everyone in the water sector could benefit from sharing knowledge and data with peers in other countries and sectors. Knowledge to be shared includes technical data and technical information as well as institutional and financial information. But sharing knowledge is not the norm and requires the breaking down of bottlenecks such as the bureaucratic rules which prevent professions of one discipline from developing knowledge in other disciplines, or the lack of financial or career incentives for a staff person to take time to upgrade his or her skills. Personal contacts, trust and confidence-building measures are needed. (See also C4.3, information and transparency.)

Mechanisms and channels for such knowledge sharing include participation in joint training programmes – workshops, seminars, study tours and conferences. Specific training courses and capacity-building efforts can be tailored to specific needs in specific countries. International agencies and networks (such as the GWP) can be instrumental in building and sharing knowledge.

Data sets of resource conditions, socio-economic data etc. need to be available and widely shared, and users need to have confidence about the use and applicability of data. These national data sets are often owned and managed by governments, but they should be available in the public domain (see also B1.1 and C1.1).

New techniques have been developed to ensure that specific stakeholders play a significant role in data management for activities such as watershed management, water resources planning, and social and biophysical impact assessment. These techniques include Interactive Group methods, Delphi Techniques (including Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management (AEAM)), and computer based techniques which can use community and expert advice to improve decision-making. These techniques use both expert knowledge and local wisdom about resource use in the construction of models to explain catchment processes.

However, building uncontested data sets can take time and should be seen as a process. Where there are disputes over data and research then conflict management tools can support the building of knowledge for IWRM. Data sharing can contribute to conflict management as while building water awareness in society (see also C5).

Lessons learned

  • Sharing knowledge requires an open mind, stimulated by suitable incentives; mutual confidence may take time to build but is essential.
  • Transferring knowledge from one country to another must take account of specific cultural and political contexts.
  • At a technical level, information and data sharing systems should be:
    • Based on people management (empowerment and capacity building of organisations) as well as technologies, and able to integrate multidisciplinary information.
    • Demand-driven so that system design and construction and outputs are directed toward the end users.
    • Flexible so that the sharing system can be used in a variety of locations or situations.
    • Transparent and rigorous so that technical and non-technical persons (wide range of stakeholders) can follow the process of information generation and evaluation.
    • Interactive, to ensure a participatory decision-making process.
    • Easy to understand and helpful in increasing awareness of the issues.

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