The River Basin Authorities (RBA's) Komati and Lomati in Swaziland have a twinning relationship with the Dutch Regional water authority Vechtstromen. This relationship includes a training of the governing boards of these newly created RBA's.
One question after another popped up in my head before my trip to Swaziland in early April: Where exactly is Swaziland? How does one train such a new and diverse board? How will a training mission with two Water Board colleagues work out? Did the Swazi prepare? How masculine will the participants' behaviour be? Will my teaching methods catch on?
Swaziland is a kingdom in South Africa. It is about a third of the size of the Netherlands. Water is locally scarce. There are places where there is plenty of water, and other places with droughts. For this reason, the Water Act (2003) has decreed that water management will be delegated to newly formed River Basin Authorities (RBAs). An RBA has a board with stakeholders working in the fields of sugarcane farmers, nature, residents and forestry. This is the year that the RBAs will officially start. High time for training and the exchange of international experience. Training with a focus on the peer-to-peer approach.
Jan Hoek, daily board member of Vechtstromen, Jan de Ruiter, advisor at the water board and Agnes Maenhout (Director of World Water Academy) were the trainers. Jan and Jan illustrated the Dutch approach and their day to day experience in preparing proposals and decisions-making. As moderator, Agnes realised the team spirit and group dynamics. The main focus of the course was on institutional aspects. What does it mean to be a board member and how to conduct the formal meetings.
Swaziland is a warm and special country. The Swazi are cheerful and humoristic. We laughed a lot in our time together. The teaching methods we used were completely new to them, and as such they were very popular.
The methods like buzzing, using sticky notes, brain writing, workshops and a case stimulated interactivity. They all found it very difficult to think from the point of view of another stakeholder. They did, however, have trouble being empathetic to another's situation. The variety of presentations and interactivity made the programme lively and practical. The practical programme was well received. They are looking forward to the second seminar next September.
Some remarks of the participants:
"The training was very useful for the board members and the methods of delivery were very exciting, engaging and effective. "
"It has invite me as a water user and I hope an improvement will take place. Thanking the team for the commitment and focus. "
"The interaction was great and everyone got a chance to participate. Also the style of how the seminar was conducted was fresh and new. It took it into a new direction and lots of lessons were learned."
More information: Agnes Maenhout