Training bolsters know-how in water management
The WATER POrT team, led by project manager Ms. Jovanka Ignjatovic, conducted the training “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Links to the WATER POrT Project Component” at the head office of the Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Szentendre, Hungary, from January 19 to 28, 2016. The training targeted young water management experts and representatives of national water authorities, institutions and NGOs from the MENA region, in particular Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.
The 13 participants who took part in the training were selected by the WATER POrT team with the support of the project’s focal points, who operate within the key institutional partners in the beneficiary countries.
The training was structured in 15 sessions that covered topics ranging from IWRM practices, shared water resources and climate change, to capacity building in water diplomacy and stakeholder dialogue. The use of an interactive teaching and learning methodology and tools, combined with case studies and study visits, made it possible to create linkages between action, outcomes and lessons learnt.
“It was a dynamic training with lots of discussion and knowledge sharing”, said Ms. Ignjatovic. “There is great interest about the most innovative and efficient IWRM approaches that can support the MENA region in facing increasingly pressing strains and demands in the water sector. The event also boosted coordination and experience sharing among the MENA countries and other regions.”
The most obvious challenge facing Ms. Ignjatovic was how to organise the training curriculum optimally, since IWRM is a complex and multidisciplinary topic that does not always allow an across-the-board approach because of each country’s specific geographical conditions and the unique set-up of each country's water sector. The highly participatory nature of the event, and the accent given to interactions between WATER POrT’s key themes, worked well in this case. “It is important to recognise that IWRM needs a multifaceted and tailored course to achieve optimal results. Drivers such as demographic, economic and climatic changes further increase the stress on water resources, so a shift from a fragmented approach to a more holistic and cooperative approach to water management is essential”, explained Ms. Ignjatovic.
Case studies on transboundary cooperation in the Danube and Sava river basins and on coping with drought in Southern European countries, as well as hands-on exercises for developing scenarios for selected, local demonstration sites, complemented the theoretical lessons. Participants also benefited from study trips to Hungarian water institutions.
Participants praised the interdisciplinary design of the training and identified, as a decisive factor for future development, the capacity of countries to manage the region’s water resources more efficiently by using IWRM as a linchpin for boosting dialogue among pivotal stakeholders and for advancing climate adaptation measures in a regional and transboundary context.