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POLICY BRIEF: Learning from an African capacity development programme

The Water, Climate and Development Programme for Africa (WACDEP) was developed by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) as a response to the African Union Heads of State and Government adopting the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration on Water and Sanitation in July 2008.

WACDEP aims to integrate water security and climate resilience in development planning processes, develop partnerships and capacities to build resilience to climate change through better water management, and develop ‘no regret’ financing and investment strategies for water security and climate change adaptation.

It has four components: investments in regional and national development; innovative green solutions; knowledge and capacity development; and partnership and sustainability. WACDEP is managed and implemented by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and partners through its WACDEP Africa Coordination Unit in Pretoria, South Africa. The third component, the capacity development programme, was launched in August 2011 and focuses on eight countries and five transboundary basins.

This Learning Brief reviews the achievements of the WACDEP’s capacity development activities, and considers how such programmes could be improved in the future.

Achievements

Altogether 170 people from eight countries were engaged in capacity building for climate resilience. Activities included a start-up meeting and five workshops per country – with a mix of lectures, discussions, excursions and case study analyses. Between workshops, mentor-supported action plans (individual projects) were undertaken.

At the end of the programme, participants sat an online exam, for which a pass grade was required in order to gain a certificate for the programme. Of the 120 participants who took the exam, 110 successfully passed. An online survey assessed participants’ views about the programme and what they had gained from it. Finally, all country management units provided comprehensive reporting on activities performed and results achieved.

Lessons learned

The authors of this Learning Brief conclude that the programme provided many opportunities to learn. Two are of particular importance:

First, with strong national ownership of programme activities, those engaged in each country gained a strong sense of pride in and responsibility for programme activities. This translated into well implemented activities, good learning and tangible results.

Second, by having programme management located in each country, it is possible to close the gap between training and participants’ work duties. This enables capacity development to be a process that slides in between training and implementation, and over time, support activities can turn into tangible outcomes and impacts.

Other related lessons learned included the value of using national trainers rather than international experts; how mentors can support participants in the application of new knowledge, how to balance a generic pan-African curriculum with national conditions, and how to plan, manage and implement a large and complex capacity development programme.

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