Articles | Volume 16, issue 9
Research article
07 Sep 2012
Research article |  | 07 Sep 2012

Enhancing capacities of riparian professionals to address and resolve transboundary issues in international river basins: experiences from the Lower Mekong River Basin

W. Douven, M. L. Mul, B. Fernández-Álvarez, S. Lam Hung, N. Bakker, G. Radosevich, and P. van der Zaag

Abstract. This paper analyses the design and impact of capacity building programmes aimed at enhancing capacities of riparian professionals to address and resolve transboundary issues in international river basins. The case study is a programme developed by the Mekong River Commission (MRC). A post-training evaluation was applied to assess its impact in terms of individual capacity enhancement and change (use and application of knowledge, factors hampering application, and change in function and opportunities within the organisation). The design of the Capacity Building Programme of the MRC Flood Management and Mitigation Programme required a well balanced range of subjects (such as IWRM (integrated water resources management), model and decision support systems, and international water law). The post-training evaluation, 6 months after the last training workshop, showed an increase in familiarity with the topics for all 37 respondents, with the highest increase for the respondents with few years of working experience and from training and education institutions. The relevance of the subjects taught was highlighted by 95% of the respondents, and 78% of the participants had already used some of the acquired knowledge in their job. The respondents indicated that they did not have sufficient opportunities to apply all knowledge. The phased implementation and training of lecturers during the training workshops had a good impact, directly through increasing involvement in facilitation and delivery of the capacity building programme and through the use of the knowledge gained in short courses and development of curricula at their institute. For these types of capacity building programmes, a few recommendations can be made. The selection of participants is crucial for the application of the learned knowledge in their work. The integrative nature of transboundary water issues calls for a capacity building programme addressing a wide range of subjects, which can be understood by a wide range of professionals from different sectors. Training methods should also address this integrative nature through, e.g. roleplays and case studies. A successful capacity building programme needs to address the three levels of capacity building (enabling environment, organisations, and individual staff) and involve national and regional training and education institutes.