Introducing theoretical insights of particpatory methods into the practical work of water managers

Jorg Krywkow, Karina Speil

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademicpeer-review

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The purpose of this contribution is to outline the development of a generic procedure for participatory water management projects in the European TRUST project. The project supported the efforts of five water management projects in Netherlands, Belgium, and Great Britain, and was divided in three theme groups: 1) engineering, 2) environmental impact and 3) participatory processes. In all theme groups, water managers used the opportunity to exchange experience, and initiated a trans-national learning process. Water managers and planners involved in theme group III (participatory processes) collaborated with, Seecon, a German-based consultancy specialising in participatory water management. Because of this collaboration, scientifically-underpinned participatory methods could be introduced in the day-to-day work of the water managers. Despite the variety of case-study-specific approaches such as canal broadening, the construction of a water basin, expansion of a recreational area, construction of multi-functional ponds in a park and the enlargement of pumping capacity in a Dutch polder, Seecon staff were able to develop a generic framework for the design, implementation and evaluation of participatory processes in water management projects. Case-specific issues were addressed in the individual participatory plans developed by Seecon and the partners.
An evaluation procedure was developed to monitor the intensity of the participatory processes in the particular case studies throughout the entire project. Seecon interviewed water managers on a regular basis. ’Planning sheets’ were developed as a log book enabling the managers to monitor the participatory process at any stage of their projects, as well as a method to estimate the intensity of participation.
Two important lessons have been learned within this project. First, the potential of participation is still not entirely recognised among water managers. Often participation is seen as a cumbersome but inevitable procedure prescribed by European or national legislation. Or it is merely seen as a risk analysis to avoid unwanted interruptions by third parties. Second, scientists and consultants must put more effort into developing convincing arguments about the positive effects of stakeholder as well as public participation. The project TRUST was a significant step forward in terms of better collaboration between practitioners, scientists and consultants in the field of participatory processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2007
Event1st International Conference on Adaptive & Integrated Water Management, CAIWA 2007 - Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 12 Nov 200715 Nov 2007
Conference number: 1


Conference1st International Conference on Adaptive & Integrated Water Management, CAIWA 2007
Abbreviated titleCAIWA


  • Participatory methods
  • Participatory plan
  • Process management
  • Monitoring and evaluation


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