Capacity Development issues on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in Central Asia discussed by authorities and experts

24 May 2011

Sub-regional workshop Capacity building for Integrated Water Resource Management in Central Asia" was organized by the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty and the UNDP funded "Promotion of IWRM and strengthening transboundary dialogue in Central Asia" project, with financial support from the European Union, Finland and Cap-net network of was conducted on 16-17 May 2011 in Almaty.

The workshop gathered about 50 participants from four Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) - leaders and experts from ministries and agencies involved in water resource management, universities, associations of water management organizations, resource centers, NGOs, experts and representatives of international and partner organizations.

The purpos of the workshop was:
  • review of experience in capacity building in the water sector;
  • information and knowledge sharing on IWRM available resources;
  • development of action plan and recommendations for capacity building and cooperation between different sectors and partners involved in Central Asia.

The seminar was opened by welcoming speeches of Messrs. Anarbek Orman, Chairman of the Water Resources Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, Sulton Rakhimov, I-st Deputy for the Minister of Water Resources and Land Reclamation of Tajikistan, Rene Mally, Head of Technical Support the European Union Delegation in Kazakhstan, and Themba Gumbo, Director of the international network of Cap-Net. All speakers underlined the importance of the issues to be discussed and highlighted the need for joint action.

Introductory presentation and discussions were on three main areas of activity of capacity building: problems of trainings for the water industry; current situation and prospects for retraining specialists on water resources management, and; development of networking between professionals in the field of IWRM.

Leading expert of UNDP Regional Center in Bratislava, Mr. Roberto Bernardo, in his presentation noted that capacity building is a long-term process, requires skills, organizational procedures as well as the initiatives and good governance at all levels. It is important to establish the effective functioning system at the individual and organizational level. He held a practice session on self-estimation of the capacity, which could be used at the national level or at the level of ministry or river basin organization.

The workshop presented a draft review of education in water resources. The aim of the study was to analyze the teaching practice of issues related to water resources at the universities of Central Asia, in order to identify the problems in education process and make recommendations for improvement. The review was compiled based on survey of more than 20 universities, as well as professionals and water institutions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Review, supported by UNESCO and prepared by the expert group, shows the critical situation in the field of education for the water industry that has evolved in the last decade. The experts noted that some specialties not included in the classifier of higher education in Kazakhstan are extremely necessary for the country, specifically engineering specialties, imperfect state of standards for some specialties and lack of graduates in theoretical and practical knowledge on many important subjects. The review stressed that the Ministry of Education and water institutions should coordinate their actions to revise the list of specialties, particularly the allocation of grants for MSc only to the dedicated Universities.

Issues related to capacity development for the Basin Management Organizations and Water User Associations have raised broad discussion. Basin Councils are joint advisory body, which includes representatives of local authorities, water users, community organizations and they determine the policies and plans for the use of water resources at the river basins. Currently, only Kazakhstan has some experience with these councils and encountered the problems and identified capacity development needs for BMOs and BCs. Unfortunately, at the organizational level, acquiring of equipment and gaining of new skills are the first priorities. Development of ideas and knowledge gathering on water resource management and priorities for the river basin remain on the periphery of attention.

Several priorities were formulated and declared by Mr. Alexander Nikolaenko, Regional Adviser GIZ, and the following are among them:
  • Strengthening of technical capacity (equipment);
  • Improving the skills of experts in carrying out functional duties:
  • Improvement of communication skills, report writing, etc.;
  • Improvement of understanding of the principles of IWRM.

According to the CAREC experience, a local NGO should play the main role in BCs through representing a large group of primary water users. The seminar discussed and proposed measures to enhance the role of these organizations in water resources management system and conduct various educational programs for the population.

Discussion of the role of networks and partnerships, consensus on common guidelines for their development and for ensuring sustainable process of capacity development in the region was initiated by the Director of Network CAP-Net, Dr. Gumbo. CAP-Net is known among professionals in creating educational materials on water resources management for different target groups and in its support to networking.

In general, sub-regional workshop was an example of an open and productive platform for discussing challenges and recommendations for capacity building in IWRM at all levels of water management. Recommendations developed by the workshop participants will be sent to relevant ministries and departments and are available on partner sites.

For more information on the workshop, please contact Mr. Simon Sargsyan, Programme Specialist for UNESCO Cluster Almaty Office and Ms. Natalia Alexeeva, Water Programme Coordinator for Representation of UNDP Regional Center for Europe and the CIS in Almaty.

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