Integrated water resource management requires cooperation and coordination between a variety of sectors and many different stakeholders. The prerequisite for this is communication between the different actors. There are many options available to facilitate information exchange among diverse water stakeholders, and they are suitable for different settings and types of people. Some of them are presented in this section, but of course the list is not exhaustive.
Communication channels include:
- One-to-one exchange using telephone, radio, email and fax services, and exchanges during social experiences, conferences, symposia and professional meetings;
- Text material such as newsletters (paper and electronic), printed manuals, newspaper and electronic media reports, bulletin boards, and blogs about IWRM experiences;
- Interactive web-based watershed information systems which specify best management practices for specific land types (land systems, land management units, planning areas, sub watersheds) in a catchment, and which are congruent with overall river basin management goals and targets;
- Simulation games (also called serious games) can be used to engage the public and to help stakeholders understand each other’s different perspectives, thereby acting to improve communication. Several water related simulation games can be found online (e.g. Aqua Republica), but many more can be conducted in person.
- Interactive and Participatory Geographical Information Systems built for use within agencies or for targeted partners in a water management context (see also C3.01);
- Field days, farm visits and workshops to exchange best management practice experiences in IWRM at the local level;
- Professional workshops to exchange experiences in state-of-the-art tools for IWRM;
- Radio broadcasts and video presentations;
- Open houses, festivals, River Days;
- Village level capacity building through discussion with farmers and village leaders;
- National and regional technical and study tours allowing professionals and practitioners to exchange first-hand results of IWRM.
As in Raising Awareness (C8.02) it is essential to address the needs of stakeholders in selecting the mechanism for communication. Local authorities and programmes offer important means of communication.
- Like other professionals, water practitioners learn best from face-to-face interaction with each other or a mentor, sharing common problems, concerns, and successes.
Good information exchange is enhanced by:
- Appropriateness – Providing information that is relevant to the IWRM task at hand, has been tested in the field and rigorously proven through research and development. Information must also be applicable to the type of problem, the level of institutional capacity, and technical ability of the practitioners. If capacity is lacking, special efforts will be needed to facilitate information exchange. Internet based information is key, but where it is not easily accessible alternatives must be used.
- Accessibility – Building on current capacity of practitioners rather than requiring major upgrades in individual, organisational, or technical ability.
- Equity – Information exchange should respect cultural needs and gender issues, and take care not to discriminate against users or providers because of their remote locations.