NEPAD Southern African Water Centres of Excellence

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1




EUROPEAN COMMISSION

NEPAD SOUTHERN AFRICAN WATER
CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE

JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE


Institute for Environment and Sustainability

Program

Office












NEPAD Southern African Water Centres of Excellence



EU JRC Contract Number: 386793


Tender Number: IES/H/2011/01/02/NC


Deliverable KM2.5

Interim Report: e
-
Conference on Knowledge Management














Document prepared by:

NEPAD
SANWATCE Secretariat


Date:
17
th

January 2013





2


Contents


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

................................
................................
................................
....................

4

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

................................
................................
................................
.....................

5

CONTEXT

................................
................................
................................
................................
.............

6

OBJECTIVES

................................
................................
................................
................................
.........

6

PROCEEDINGS

................................
................................
................................
................................
...

6

MARKETING

................................
................................
................................
................................
.......

7

LESSONS LEARNED

................................
................................
................................
...........................

8

CONCLUSION

................................
................................
................................
................................
.....

9

UPCOMING E
-
CONFERENCE

................................
................................
................................
.............

9




3


List of Acronyms

AU

African Union

EC

European Commission

EU

European Union

JRC

Joint Research Commission

KM

Knowledge Management

MDG

Millennium Development Goal

NEPAD

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development

SANWATCE

Southern African Water Centres of Excellence





4


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The NEPAD S
outhern African Water Centres of Excellence (S
ANWATCE
)

Secretariat would like to
thank all the participants of the e
-
Conference. We recognize that this is a new conference format
and so we are especially grateful to all those contributed to the online debate and shared their
knowledge.


A s
pecial thanks also
goes out to the
J
oint Research Commission (J
RC
)

and their IT team for providing
the AquaKnow platform and all the necessary support

leading up to and during the e
-
Conference.





5


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NEPAD SANWATCE Secretariat organised an e
-
Conference on
Knowledge Management in the
Southern African Water Sector

and specifically the
Knowledge Chain: Generation, dissemination and
feedback

from the 26
th

November to 30
th

November 2012

under its contra
ct with the JRC.
Participants were able to sign up to the e
-
Conference on
http://econference.nepadwatercoe.org/

prior to the conference and i
n total
ca. 70

people signed up to the open group discussion.


The e
-
Conference was opened by Mr. Nico Elema, the NEPAD SANWATCE Programme Manager, and
Prof. Jacqueline Goldin, University of the Western Cape, in an online video discussing K
nowledge
Management (K
M
)

in general and thus providing the backdrop to the di
scussions that followed.

The
discussion was divided into two parts:


1)

What is KM?
Who are the
stakeholders

in the water sector?


2)

A new direction?

Do researchers in the water sector have to
change their perspective and become more
policy
-
tuning, rather than policy
-
shaping?



6


CONTEXT

In the past decades the E
uropean
U
nion (EU)

has developed a wide cooperation network through
Aid, Development Cooperation and Technical and Scientific Cooperation
. By adopting in 2002 the
Communication on water management in developing countries, a paper setting out EU priorities for
development cooperation on water, the EC recognised the crucial role of water resources
management for sustainable development. The m
anagement of water resources is fundamental to
achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for which the EU has undertaken many
commitments to help accelerate progress in reaching these ambitious targets.

In 2009 the EC established a support project to

the A
frican Union (AU)
/NEPAD Networks of Centres
of Excellence (Water CoE) in Western and in Southern Africa in order to improve the impact of
African research and development on the water resource sector. The EC is funding, through the JRC,
the networks
in order to enable Africa to benefit from the diversity of institutions and programmes
available across the continent for South to South capacity development with the final aim of
strengthening the link between policy and research and higher education.

OBJ
ECTIVES

The objectives of the e
-
conference are:

a)

Share and disseminate the results of the international research and educational experiences
relevant to the subject.

b)

Improve partnership and give visibility of the current project at the international level.

c)

Identify possible project and thematic collaborations.

d)

Contact international donors supporting current research and technical activities of the
Southern African Centres of Excellence.

e)

Identify common issues and analyse local and regional solutions.

PROCEEDINGS

An e
-
conference is a discussion on a specific theme among a group of people conducted via the
Internet using email (e
-
group).

The e
-
conference format appears as an interesting alternative to the
traditional seminars and workshops, because it sa
ves mission costs and lets to the participant more
flexibility in his implication and time scheduling.

The
70

p
articipants
were
invited to contribute to
the facilitated discussion in their own time over the course of a week.
Participants from a variety of
backgrounds
-

journalism, academia; activist networks and from an international background signed
up on
http://econference.nepadwatercoe.org/

and were then automatically transferred into the
AquaKnow

e
-
Conference group where the discussion was hosted.

The e
-
Conference was opened by Mr. Nico Elema, the NEPAD SANWATCE Programme Manager, and
Prof. Jacqueline Goldin, University of the Western Cape, in an online video
discussing Knowledge
Management (KM) in general and thus providing the backdrop to the discussions that followed. The
discussion was divided into two parts:


1)

What is KM?
Who are the
stakeholders

in the water sector?


2)

A new direction?

7


Do researchers in the water sector have to change their perspective and become more
policy
-
tuning, rather than policy
-
shaping?

The e
-
Conference started off with an immediate focus on policy. Professor Daniel CW Nkhu
wa of the
University of Zambia clearly demonstrates the added value of incorporating information and the
results of research into groundwater management policy and even day
-
to
-
day management. He
rightfully recognizes that the uptake by political beneficiar
ies of this information is not always
evident, and suggests a certain responsibility for knowledge producers to ‘package’ their knowledge
to facilitate the uptake. This is not evident to achieve, as is pointed out by Andrea Leone of the Joint
Research Cent
re Ispra who states “In our experience we noticed a consensus among
stakeholders

on
the need for common approaches to KM but scepticism about top down or artificially c
reated
solutions


user shaped solutions can be more “chaotic” but more likely to work.”

Based on these arguments Mr. Murray Biedler, expert on the southern African water sector and KM,
put forward the controversial argument that the mismatch between polic
y
-
makers and researchers
is also due to the time lag of the two worlds; researchers think long
-
term while policy
-
makers are
tied to short
-
term time frames and outputs. This led us to ask the question whether you think that
researchers in the water sector h
ave to change their perspective and become more policy
-
tuning,
rather than policy
-
shaping.

Andrea Leone from the JRC turned the question around and challenged policy
-
makers to adapt their
decision
-
making processes. This was followed up by Prof. Goldin from

the University of the Western
Cape, South Africa, who remarked that policy
-
makers want simplistic data and clear
recommendation. She therefore suggested that scientists publish two papers; one which adheres to
the strict scientific ethical requirements, w
hile the other presents the information for the policy
-
makers in form of policy briefs. Prof. Nkhuwa, in particular, raised the issue of ethical standards in
the scientific community and reminded the participants that science and data cannot exist in a
vac
uum but have to serve a purpose. It is, to quote Prof. Goldin, “the researchers’ ethical duty to
transfer information as accurately and precisely as possible” and face
-
to
-
face interaction with policy
-
makers is preferred at all stages of the policy cycle. I
n the end, all commentators agreed that it is up
to all stakeholders


researchers, policy
-
makers, and society to contribute their specific knowledge,
in order to improve the well
-
being of the

southern African water sector.

MARKETING

The Secretariat utilis
ed numerous means to advertise the e
-
Conference and attract participants
:

a)

The Programme Manager, Mr. Nico Elema was
interview
ed by
Radio Africa

prior to the e
-
Conference in
November 2012.

b)

We widely distributed the e
-
Conference information to our partner
institutions, network
member institutions, etc.

c)

We published the below announcement on our homepage
:

E
-
conference on knowledge management in the Southern African water sector

Nov.20,2012

A free virtual conference


the first of its kind on knowledge management in the
Southern African water sector


will be hosted from 26 to 30 November by the
NEPAD
8


Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (SANWATCE), in conjunction
with the
European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

“An e
-
conference is a discussion on a specific theme among a group of people
conducted via the Internet using email among members of a specific e
-
group,” explains
Nico Elema, regional programme manager of SANWAT
CE. “It’s an interesting alternative
to the traditional format of seminars and workshops, because it saves mission costs and
provides more flexibility to participants in relation to their participation and time
scheduling.”

“We are very excited about this
opportunity and to be able to connect with likeminded
people in the water sector in the region,” he says. “We are looking forward to lively
debate, which in turn will stimulate skills development and growth within the sector.”

All discussions and presentat
ions will take place on the online platform AquaKnow.net, a
collaborative workspace and content management system. Video addresses by keynote
speakers will be available to set the scene for the various topics of discussion.

The topic of the first e
-
confere
nce will be the knowledge chain within the water sector,
and how it can be disseminated and used.

Two further e
-
conferences are also being planned, around topics such as the need for
joint action towards water knowledge management, and challenges and probl
ems that
is being faced. Dates for these e
-
conferences will be confirmed.

The SANWATCE secretariat is based at Stellenbosch University, and is affiliated to the
Stellenbosch University Water Institute.

To join the discussions of the e
-
conference, sign up a
t
http://econference.nepadwatercoe.org/
.

LESSONS LEARNED

The main shortcoming of the first NEPAD SANWATCE e
-
Conference w
as that, unfortunately, it
received too little input. This resulted in a situation where only a few individuals, closely linked to
the network, provided comments. Although these seemed to have been read by many people, it did
not lead to a vivid discussion
.

For the upcoming e
-
Conference, the Secretariat has decided to change its tactic

to attract more
participants and increase participation
.

Firstly, to focus the topic more solution
-
centred as some of the problems and challenges have
already been pointed
out. Secondly, we will try and link the e
-
Conference to the UN Water Day in
March to bring it into a wider context of water challenges. This strategic link could also mean that
we might attract more participants.
Thirdly, we will contact some key stakehold
ers in the sector
prior to the e
-
Conference personally and make sure they are aware and prepared to participate.

9


CONCLUSION

This interim report reflected the proceedings of the first of three e
-
Conference which NEPAD
SANWATCE will deliver in collaboration with the JRC under their KM project.
Overall the first topic of
the e
-
Conference provided an interesting insight into the la
ndscape and most pertinent challenge
arising in the southern African water sector: The
difficult
link between academic knowledge and
policy
-
makers. For the upcoming
e
-
Conferences on Topic 2:
Joint Action for Water KM

and Topic 3:
Challenges and Problems of

KM

this
challenge will addressed further.

UPCOMING E
-
CONFERENCE

Two further e
-
Conferences are
currently
being planned
in March 2013

during the UN World Water
Week. B
oth will again be
hosted on the JRC’s
www.aquakno
w.net
, although the sign
-
up page on
http://econference.nepadwatercoe.org/

is already open.

Topic 2:
Joint action for Water KM


17
th


22
nd

March 2013

Topic 3:
Challenges and Problems of KM

17
th


22
nd

March 2013