These tips and guidelines are primarily based on the experience gathered from organizing a knowledge sharing and planning workshop on water integrity in February 2014 in Delft, the Netherlands.
A knowledge sharing and action planning workshop can support efforts to promote and enhance water integrity by:
- Helping to raise awareness on the risks and impact of corruption in the water sector
- Enabling the assessment of the effectiveness of tools to prevent corruption and enhance integrity
- Enabling the exchange of experiences and strategies to tackle common challenges in water integrity
- Helping to build multi-stakeholder coalitions and partnerships to tackle water integrity issues
How to organize a workshop
Planning and organizing a water integrity knowledge sharing workshop generally takes several months.
The process is most effective if it is collaborative and based on in-depth consultations with stakeholders from an early stage.
1. Setting up a coordination team and steering group
The coordination team, of ideally about 2 staff members or consultants, manages the development of the programme and ensures that logistics are taken care of, with guidance from the initiating organization(s).
The first task of the coordination team is to identify potential partners and key stakeholders of the workshop (e.g. government agencies, water authorities, knowledge and research institutes, NGOs and donors) to form a workshop steering group. This steering group can provide input and guidance to flesh out the workshop concept, objectives and programme, in order to make it as relevant and participatory as possible.
2. Conducting a consultation process
A consultation process with the members of the steering group is a means to identify needs, gather ideas for the workshop concept and make the organization process more participatory. Such a consultation process can also help motivate a committed group of stakeholders who will continue to cooperate on the topic of water integrity after the workshop.
The consultation process should be led by the coordination team and focus on the checking:
- What does the steering group want or expect from the workshop and its outcomes?
- When will the workshop be considered successful and useful to them?
- What can the different organizations represented in the steering group contribute to the workshop in terms of knowledge/expertise, experience, staff or financial resources?
3. Developing a workshop concept note
The workshop concept note is the synthesis of the consultation conclusions and a guideline for the development of the workshop programme. It should outline: objectives, outputs, scope, participants, and budgets.
The workshop can serve a strategic goal plus one or more specific objectives. The strategic goal looks beyond the workshop and puts the workshop in a larger context. A strategic goal for the workshop could for instance be formulated as: To share water integrity related knowledge and experiences between water sector stakeholders and to plan for joint action on the long-term.
A set of learning objectives can be defined for each target group that may be present at the workshop. Such objectives help manage expectations, clarify roles of participants and can help define a more relevant programme. For example, it is important to clarify that practitioners can learn about tools to map integrity risks in their daily work or that academics can learn from practitioners about actual integrity challenges on the ground.
Specific objectives are more practical and focused on the workshop itself, for example:
- Share integrity tools and methods and identify their applicability in different contexts
- Map integrity risks in the water supply and sanitation sector
- Identify opportunities for building water integrity capacities in (regional) water authorities
- Define opportunities for mainstreaming integrity in ongoing programmes of the participating organizations
The formulation of these objectives should be guided by questions such as: How can we improve current and future programmes by integrating integrity aspects? What can we do to enhance integrity in our activities and partnerships? Which tools exist to assess and improve integrity? How can these tools be implemented in programmes?
Ideally, specific objectives are tied to concrete outputs. These outputs should be planned based on available funding or will have to be subject of a new funding proposal. Examples of outputs could be:
- An action plan to improve transparency in procurement processes
- A signed agreement between authorities and other partners to work towards improved integrity in the water sector or in a specific process
- An action plan with a list of commitments from organizations to mainstream integrity into existing and future projects and programmes
- An overview of water integrity tools that are useful for the specific context addressed in the workshop and an action plan for implementing them
- A framework for long-term exchange of knowledge and lessons learned on integrity
- A publication summarizing the findings of the workshop for wider dissemination
The workshop can focus on one country or on a group of countries. It can focus on one or more sub-sectors (e.g river basin governance, drinking water supply) or levels (e.g. local, organizational, national, international). The workshop can also focus on a specific approach or set of tools to promote integrity.
The more specific the focus of the workshop, the more in-depth the discussions can be. On the other hand, sharing lessons across countries or sectors can help to develop creative ideas and build regional coalitions or cross-sector coalitions. Organizing sessions with small groups can facilitate in-depth discussions even within workshops with a broader focus.
The chosen scope of the workshop depends on what the partners and/or beneficiaries want to get out of the workshop and can be discussed in the consultation process.
The participants to invite depend on the scope of the workshop but should preferably include a mix of policy-makers, practitioners and academics. It helps to clearly inform participants of their roles and of what they can get out of the workshop according to the learning objectives.
All participant groups bring in different experiences, perspectives and knowledge. This diversity deepens the discussions but should be managed well. A good moderator who is able to make participants feel comfortable and motivated to contribute to the discussions is essential.
To share integrity-related knowledge and experiences, it is essential to create an open and safe atmosphere in which participants feel free to speak up. Inviting certain stakeholders can make participants hesitant to share their experiences. Be aware of the sensitives of stakeholders and make space for smaller group or other interaction formats to enable open discussions.
When inviting participants from abroad, it may be useful to investigate sponsorships. Each convening organization could be asked to fund the travel and accommodation of a number of participants, for example.
A knowledge sharing and action planning workshop can be organized with a limited budget provided partner organizations give in-kind support such as dedicated time and a workshop venue.
Obtaining funds and support will be easier if the workshop is linked to specific projects and objectives of supporting organizations for which budgets could be made available.
4. Developing a programme
The final programme should be a suite of modules and interaction formats that can help different participant groups achieve all the identified learning objectives and deliver planned outputs, based on the resources and expertise available.
Depending on the scope of the workshop and level of knowledge of participants, it can help to combine theoretical modules (for example, focused on building a common understanding of water integrity) and practical modules focused on experience from the field.
Sufficient time should be allocated for knowledge sharing on one hand and for action planning on the other.
Speakers can be sought from within the participant group to enhance the exchange of experiences between participants. Water integrity experts can also be invited to bring in an international perspective or specialized expertise.
Making sure the workshop is interactive is key to achieving the desired exchange of knowledge and experiences from participants. This requires that a good and lively moderator be selected to facilitate the workshop and motivate participants to contribute. The moderator should be an expert in the field of water integrity, should fluently speak the local language or language selected for the workshop, and should be aware of sensitivities related to the topic.
Sending guiding questions to the participants before the workshop can give the moderator entry points for many of the discussions.
5. Planning event logistics
The key items to be looked into early on by the coordination team are:
- A possible date that doesn’t conflict with other major events in the water or anti-corruption sectors
- A venue, if possible made available for the workshop by a partner to minimize costs
- The invitation of participants and speakers, and the set-up of a registration system if necessary
- Communication material and processes (promotional material, printed information, outreach to press or key stakeholders)
There are practicalities to work out before, during and after the event.
More help and resources
Useful resources to define concepts and principles:
Learning resources and online guides for designing workshop programmes
- Water Integrity Training Manual
- Introducing Knowledge Sharing Methods and Tools – A Facilitator´s Guide
Online event checklists
Online guides on planning and designing workshops
Download all resources