EMPOWERS PARTNERSHIP ANNEX C IRC REPORT PROGRESS AND ACTIVITIES Reporting
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EMPOWERS PARTNERSHIP ANNEX C IRC REPORT PROGRESS AND ACTIVITIES Reporting period - st May 1 2005 to October 31st 2006 10 November 2006 EMPOWERS PARTNERSHIP IS A PROJECT IN THE MEDA WATER PROGRAMME FUNDED BY THE EC (MEDA/PROJECT NR. ME8/AIDCO/2001/0515/59627-PO26) Summary of reporting period This report covers the period from May until the end of October 2006 The highlights for IRC during the reporting period have been: • Identifying the outlines of a regional partnership to maintain and scale-up the EMPOWERS approach beyond the current project. • Developing an outline and largely finalised first draft of the EMPOWERS guidelines • Supporting the drafting of community and governorate water strategies • Making of four EMPOWERS Documentary Films • Participating in 2 training events which have allowed a solid core of materials to be developed and tested. The country teams are faced by a number of important challenges in the period ahead, including: • Finalising village processes in new communities, using the draft guidelines. • Continuing to strengthen and deepen the governorate level work, particularly around the area of management information systems and improved communications and governorate water development planning. • Continuing the process of institutionalisation of the EMPOWERS approach, both at the governorate level and nationally. • Meeting the challenge of buy-in to the idea that the strategies being developed at local level are owned by relevant stakeholders. • Finalising the first draft of the EMPOWERS guidelines, to support the new village processes as well as the district level processes • Continuing to support the implementation of governorate level WMIS and Water Strategies • Continuing to support and deepen the process documentation efforts of EMPOWERS with a particular focus on developing a series of documentary films. • Taking part in two sets of training activities (in Egypt and Oman) • Establishing the EMPOWERS Thematic Group The most important challenges for IRC in the coming period will be: • Finalising guidelines and other publications • Regional Policy Workshop • Progress on EMPOWERS Thematic Group • Final External Evaluation Overview of main activities carried out during reporting period Country visits This overview gives a brief summary of the main activities undertaken by IRC during the reporting period. Training workshop and country support visit (Cairo 21-26th May) Charles Batchelor spent 4 days participating in the IWRM training workshop that was organised by INWRDAM and held at the Regional Center for Training and Water Studies, in 6th October City, Cairo. Approximately 20 participants from the MEDA region and South Asia took part in the workshop. Together with Hazem Fahmy, Charles Batchelor provided training on the principles of IWRM and the use of EMPOWERS tools. The workshop was funded by IDB and IOC/COMSTECH. Before and after the workshop Charles Batchelor had meetings with EMPOWERS partners based in Cairo but working on the governorate and village-level piloting activities in Beni Suef Governorate. Discussions focused on the many lessons that had been learnt from piloting different tools and, more specifically, on which tools have proved to be the most useful. Training course on EMPOWERS approaches (Oman 3/6/6 - 9/6/6) Patrick Moriarty joined an EMPOWERS/INWRDAM team to provide a training to directors of water resource management in Oman. The training was a success, with the participants interested in adopting and further developing the EMPOWERS approach and tools. The workshop provided another chance to further develop the training materials first used in the Lebanon workshop in 2005. The EMPOWERS team members from Jordan, Egypt and Palestine led the workshop (which was mainly in Arabic) and their increasing familiarity and confidence with the materials was demonstrated by the ease with which they were able to manage both lectures and group work. Documentation support visit (Cairo 10/06/2006 – 13/06/2006) Ton Schouten visited the Egyptian country team to support the process of making the country videos, as well as to provide back-up on the process documentation. A good filmmaker was identified, however so was the fact that making a critical film about water management in Egypt is very difficult. So many things are hidden and it is very difficult for people in villages to speak out in all openness. It will be an act of balance to make a film that is critical enough to stimulate reflection and discussion on water governance in Egypt and at the same time is accepted as an integral product and not immediately thrown apart. Documentation support visits (Palestine/Jordan 29/06/2006 - 07/07/2006) Ton Schouten also visited the teams in Jordan and Palestine to support the film making process, and more generally on process documentation. The meetings went very well. Good filmmakers, nice people. All conditions are set to have the best filmmaking process possible. We will see what comes out of it. Country support visits (Palestine/Jordan 25/6/6 - 7/7/6) Patrick Moriarty visited Palestine (26/6/06 – 1/7/06) and Jordan (1/7/06 – 7/7/06) to provide backstopping and support to the teams. The focus of both visits was on the governorate level water resource assessments (for which a format was agreed) and also on clarifying issues to do with the planning, implementing and reflecting steps of the EMPOWERS guidelines. In both Palestine and Jordan visits were made to the governorate offices, with particular emphasis on discussing issues around the Water Management Information Systems. In Jordan field visits were made to the new communities, to see how the strategy development process was proceeding. In both countries progress was good, with the teams completely on top of the methodology and working effectively with stakeholders. Previously mentioned caveats about the provision of WMIS hardware remain – it is essential that in conjunction with the hardware, sufficient attention be paid to ensuring that the governorate staff intend to use it – and are clear as to the use to which they want to put it. Sub-regional workshop and PMG meeting (Amman, 30/7/06 – 4/8/06) Patrick Moriarty and Charles Batchelor attended the EMPOWERS sub-regional workshop, and also took the opportunity to work with members of all the country teams on the Guidelines. A session on the guidelines was facilitated, during which very useful feedback from the various partners was elicited. It was encouraging to note that there was in general very strong support for the idea of developing guidelines – with participants clear that they would represent a useful tool for further scaling up of the EMPOWERS approach. A session on the scaling up of EMPOWERS was also encouraging in as much as most participants expressed a strong commitment to further develop and work on the approach, although it is also clear that without funding and some sort of programmatic support for this, it may be difficult to maintain momentum once the current EMPOWERS project is over. The Sub-Regional workshop gave key-stakeholders a better opportunity to give presentations and to participate in plenary discussions. It was encouraging to see a number of stakeholders, who were quite sceptical about the project at the beginning, give excellent presentations that showed they have taken ownership of the project and the outputs. That said, there might have been more opportunity for in-depth reflection among the core teams – and this is something for which space must be made before the end of the programme. Patrick Moriarty (and Erma Uytewaal) attended the PMG meeting. It was gratifying that the issue of match funding seems finally to have been solved. It bears mention that the problem was primarily an administrative one and that it should have been solved much sooner. Good progress was also made on the shape of a ‘post EMPOWERS’ grouping, with agreement that for now this would take the form of a loose ‘thematic group’ dedicated to maintaining and scaling-up the EMPOWERS philosophy and approach. IRC, with its new regional programme starting in 2006 is committed to maintaining and supporting the thematic group. This EMPOWERS Thematic Group will be made visible on the web, for the moment through the EMPOWERS website hosted by INWRDAM. Given this good progress, the collapse of efforts to secure bridge funding (due to the war in Lebanon and the re-allocation of EU funds to re-construction) is particularly unfortunate. Guidelines development workshop (01/10/06 - 5/10/06 Cairo) Patrick Moriarty and Charles Batchelor joined Hazem Fahmy and Firas Abd-Alhadi in Cairo for a short but useful workshop to further develop the Guidelines. Good progress was made on agreeing final content and structure (see annex). And a draft of the main body of the guidelines was completed. It is intended that the full Guideline document will be completed in first draft format by the end of November and circulated to all partners for comment. The final version will be produced in mid-2007. Other activities Guidelines The main activity of the IRC team during this period has been on: a) developing the EMPOWERS Guidelines; and b) the EMPOWERS Documentary Films as reported. Articles and presentations • Patrick Moriarty and Peter Laban contributed chapters to the forthcoming IRC book on ‘Learning Alliances’ that is based on the IRC symposium in 2005. It is expected that the book will be published before the end of 2007. • Patrick Moriarty gave a presentation on EMPOWERS at the start up meetings of two large new projects: o SWITCH – an EU funded research project working in 9 cities around the world to identify approaches for improved urban water management; o RiPPLE – a DFID funded research programme working in Ethiopia with a focus on improving access to WASH services. • Both projects have been strongly influenced by the EMPOWERS approach to structuring learning partnerships (referred to as a learning alliance by IRC). The RiPPLE project is also incorporating key materials and concepts from EMPOWERS on planning for local water management. • Charles Batchelor gave a presentation on the EMPOWERS approach to members of the Andhra Pradesh Water Governance Working Group. The presentation was prompted by the Government of Andhra Pradesh’s strong interest in finding practical means of implementing programmes of IWRM. Other comments As the project nears its end, the issue of the security (or lack of it) of team members is becoming a serious concern. Many of the key team members of the EMPOWERS country teams were recruited specifically for the project. The result is that they now suffer from job insecurity as the end approaches and naturally begin to seek other opportunities. This has a potentially seriously destabilising impact on a very crucial phase of the programme – in which many strands need to be brought together and tied off. The loss of what seemed like a reasonably certain extension to the project has brought this problem into sharper focus. Moreover, the issue of staff insecurity is itself an indicator of an even more worrying underlying issue. This is that an assumed commitment of key partners to the approach being developed (and hence to seeing the staff recruited as an important resource for themselves) does not seem to be materialising. In other words, the insecurity of core staff reflects a broader lack of commitment to the whole EMPOWERS approach. One practical solution to counter the threat posed by staff insecurity may be to look into the possibility of awarding an ‘end of contract bonus’ of some sort – to those who stay until the end of the project – providing them with the security of some paid time in which to find new positions. The successes of EMPOWERS are many and widely commented on and appreciated. However, there are also areas of weakness, and it is important to also document these. One of these is the weak buy-in of (particularly) National levels and (to a lesser extent) Governorate/District to the entire strategies being produced. To explain: put simply, the EMPOWERS approach can be broken down into two main elements. A strategic planning phase; and a project implementation phase. It has always been an underlying assumption that the strategic planning should produce medium-long terms strategies based on achieving a broad (but realistic) vision. The implementation of ‘pilots’ has always been intended as a sort of ‘tester’ of the planning process – the planning process itself is far too heavy for such small scale activities. The objective, of course, is for both community and external stakeholders to commit to the larger and longer term process. However, despite some promising signs (especially at community level) this is not happening yet in the way envisaged at national/governorate levels. This highlights the problem that despite much willingness and sense of purpose among governorate level staff, the reality is that decentralisation processes are at a point where their ability to manoeuvre and be flexible is still extremely limited. Thus, while there have been very real and important successes in terms of improved communication between the levels, the integration of village level planning into governorate level planning has not yet been really achieved. This is an issue that might well be rewarding to address during the national and regional policy workshops. In essence what is now needed is a stepped up level of political commitment to the EMPOWERS approach – so that rather than essentially separate processes of village and governorate level strategic planning the two are linked and feed from one another. During this period the project seems to have suffered from weak management support. The internal approval of a necessary budget revision and request for a No-Cost Extension has claimed a lot of time of the Regional Coordinator at the expense of his tasks to provide quality support to the country teams (a.o. working papers, country reports and community fact sheets). It is a concern that hopefully will be mitigated in the coming period. It is hoped that un-clarities around the responsibilities and role of the RC can also be adequately dealt with so that this last year of the project can be implemented as smoothly as possible. Priority activities during next reporting period (November – April 2007): Continuing support to the country teams. With the project rapidly moving into its final stages, it is likely that there will be only one more country support visit to each of the teams. These visits will have the objective of helping to finalise the implementation of WMIS systems in the governorates, and the governorate level strategies. They will also have an important opportunity to assess with the teams the overall process of EMPOWERS, lessons learned and achievements made. Support to Process Documentation. Important support to process documentation will continue. The EMPOWERS four (regional and 3 country) documentary films will be finalised during this period. A fifth version of the country material will be broadcast by the BBC in December. During this period the focus will also shift to the pulling together and distillation of the process documentation materials into final products that will be published among the key outputs of the EMPOWERS project. Outlines of these and some draft materials will be prepared and agreed. These Process reports will provide, in a rather journalistic way, what has been learned in the project around decision-making, empowerment and changes in attitudes and beliefs. These reports will complement in a way the above mentioned documentary films. Working papers and notes. A decision has been made that, rather than update existing working papers they will be left ‘as is’ with the series completed, and the most key messages distilled into a background document to support the guidelines (see annex). Papers to be finalised in this period are: Working Paper 2 on country background; Working Paper 7 on Participatory Community Planning and Accountability Analysis, Working Paper 8 on Process Documentation; and (perhaps) Working Paper 9, on G/MIS and decision support. Draft Guidelines for the EMPOWERS process Annex 1 shows the agreed overall shape for the guidelines. This will consist of four separate documents: • A conceptual background paper (20-40 pages drawing on and updating the key materials from the working papers) • The body of the guidelines themselves, providing a step by step guide on how to implement the EMPOWERS approach • A ‘toolbox’ of 30+ tools (these will be in the form of loose sheets – rather than a bound document) that are used in the approach • A Training Guide with guidelines for training in selected tools. The target users of the guidelines, training guide and toolbox are professionals aiming to emulate or replicate the EMPOWERS process: consultants, NGO and local government staff, etc. They will also be of wider interest to senior policy makers and decision makers in as much as the represent a codified and tested methodology that they can draw on. It is intended that all four documents will be finalised and circulated in draft form during this period. Comments will be elicited, and the guidelines adapted accordingly. The publication process is expected to be started towards the end of the period. National Policy Workshops and Regional Policy Workshop Due to constraints on remaining time and travel, and the need to prioritise other activities, IRC will probably only attend one policy workshop. It is likely that this will be the Egyptian workshop, immediately prior to the PMG. A crucial event for the future of the EMPOWERS concept and approach in the region will be the Regional Policy Workshop, scheduled for Amman in June 2007. It is essential that this workshop attract a good range of high level participants from donors, government, NGOs, and the research/knowledge community if the future of EMPOWERS beyond the project is to have a good chance. Final external evaluation The final evaluation, planned for June 2007, is critical both for the Partnership and the Programme. It should also provide a good advocacy basis for future work. In view of important stakes of some of the key partners in this programme it will be essential that this evaluation is organized in an objective way. Developing a post-EMPOWERS future: IRC is fully committed to the further dissemination of the approaches developed within EMPOWERS within the current countries; throughout the region; and throughout its global network. To this end it will continue to discuss with key EMPOWERS partners – either within the context of the ‘EMPOWERS future’ strategy; or bilaterally to ensure that the progress made and lessons learned under EMPOWERS are taken forward. .