ICOLD Focuses on Capacity Building

In line with its mission to support dam engineering and development, the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) offers training programs for engineers. Programs in Turkey, Morocco and China have supported capacity building and relationship development.

By Adama Nombre and Luis Berga

The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) recognizes the importance of providing the tools necessary to adequately develop dams, hydropower facilities and water resources projects around the world. Capacity building and the development of strong working relationships are two vital elements in achieving this goal. To this end, ICOLD has held and continues to develop training programs in Turkey, Morocco and China that further knowledge for young professionals while assisting them in building relationships in the dam community. More than 70 engineers have already taken advantage of these programs, with others scheduled to participate in 2013 and, hopefully, beyond.

ICOLD’s training programs

ICOLD is an international non-governmental organization that provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in dam engineering. Created in Paris in 1928, today ICOLD has members in 95 countries, which accounts for about 90% of the world’s population, and it has more than 10,000 individual members.

ICOLD sets standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely, efficiently and economically and that they are environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. ICOLD assists nations in meeting the challenges in the development and management of their water and hydropower resources. Key issues for ICOLD are:

— Promote professionalism and ethics in dam engineering;

— Encourage knowledge transfer among countries and promote training courses;

— Encourage young people to participate in the activities of ICOLD and its national committees;

— Advance knowledge of adaptations to climate change and their impacts on water resources and dams and reservoirs; and,

— Expand knowledge regarding dams and the environment and dam safety.

According to the World Bank, capacity is “the ability of individuals, organizations and institutions to set goals and achieve them, the capacity to budget resources and use them for agreed purposes, the capacity to manage the complex processes and interactions that constitute a working political and economic system.”

ICOLD focuses on capacity building in dam engineering. In addition to an international congress held every three years that gathers thousands of professionals worldwide, ICOLD offers international symposiums and workshops related to dam engineering, construction, operation, monitoring and decommissioning, as well as environmental, financial and social aspects of dams and reservoirs. ICOLD also provides guidelines and recommendations for professionals and decision-makers and publishes technical bulletins on dams and related issues. Nearly 150 technical bulletins are available, with free access to about 100 of those on the ICOLD website at: www.icold-cigb.org.

As ICOLD membership from less-developed countries continues to increase, mainly in Africa, the issue of capacity-building as a specific activity with ICOLD has gained in importance as a key to contribute to the development of the huge potential of water and energy for sustainable development in this and other areas of the world.

It is within this framework and to achieve ICOLD goals in knowledge exchange and strengthening of its member countries that ICOLD started in 2006 to implement a program of training for young professionals in its less-developed member countries from the Africa/Australasia zone. The aim of the training program is to develop knowledge exchange and field training.

Training program framework

Programs have been negotiated by ICOLD with the Turkish Committee on Large Dams and DSI from Turkey and the Secretary of State in charge of hydraulics of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Morocco National Committee on Large Dams. Two agreements have been signed with DSI and one with the Moroccan Secretary for short-term training for engineers and professionals from developing countries that are ICOLD members.

The training fees for these programs are supported by DSI or the Morocco Secretary of State, and the trainee’s travel costs are supported by his or her national committee. Trainees who participated in the program should then provide a report on the results of the training to ICOLD as well as the supporting institution.

Training programs in Turkey

The first program in Turkey was implemented from 2006 to 2008. As a result of its success, a second agreement was signed for the period 2011 to 2013. Every year, about 10 candidates are chosen for training. Under the terms of the agreement, the training covers planning, finance, design, implementation and operation of dams and hydro stations as well as associated equipment and infrastructure.

The first program, supported by DSI and the Turkish National Committee on Large Dams, started in 2006 and consisted of a one-month technical tour in Turkey. Three sessions were organized by DSI: one in 2006, the second in 2007, and the third in 2008.

Thirty five young engineers and dam professionals from the following eight countries attended the three sessions: Burkina Faso (3), Cote d’Ivoire (2), Egypt (2), Mali (5), Morocco (5), Nigeria (7), South Africa (4), and Zambia (7).

These training sessions consisted of technical tours around the main region of Turkey to visit major dams in operation, large dam construction sites, large water systems and historical and cultural sites. These tours are supplemented by a presentation at the general directorate of DSI on the water and energy water sector organization and management in Turkey, focusing on the role and features of DSI. DSI is the main structure for the development and protection of water and energy resources in Turkey and was established in 1954.

This program offered a unique opportunity for young engineers to have a general overview of achievement in the water and energy sectors in Turkey and to establish networks for friendship, cooperation and understanding among people. Furthermore, this training program also allows many young engineers to expand their awareness of recent advances in professional development and to develop a network of friendship within ICOLD.

Implementation of the second program with Turkey, which has a similar structure to the one mentioned above, started in September 2011, and the final session will be completed by April 2013. A total of 16 engineers from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Morocco attended the two sessions held in 2011 and 2012.

Training in Morocco

The training in Morocco was implemented from 2008 to 2010, with the possibility to renew for another three years. This decision will be made in the coming months. For every year, three candidates were chosen for a training duration of three months in Morocco. The training focused on water resources management, dam planning, engineering and operation.

The program in Morocco was completed in 2011 with the training of a total of six engineers coming from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Togo. During three months, these trainees had the opportunity to:

— Visit dams in operation and be introduced to dam monitoring and surveillance;

— Visit dams under construction;

— Visit hydraulic and geotechnical laboratories;

— Be introduced to the water management and development policy in Morocco; and,

— Have on-the-job training in consulting engineers’ offices.

This program allowed the trainees to get exposure to an in-depth view of the water and energy sector organization and regulation in Morocco and to learn from Moroccan experience in water and dam planning, engineering, construction and operation. Morocco is one of the active member countries of ICOLD, with significant experience in the fields of water resource planning and dam engineering, and could provide a good example of how water can be managed in a country facing water scarcity, as are many countries located in the Sahel zone of Africa.

Technical tours in China for professionals from Africa zone

Under the framework of ICOLD capacity-building activity, the China National Committee on Large Dams also organized two technical tours in China in 2010 and 2011 for dozens of professionals from Africa. These tours offered unique opportunities for these professionals to exchange knowledge and experience and learn from the extensive and rich experience of China in water resources development and dam construction.

CHINCOLD will organize a third technical tour for African delegates in October 2012. This tour will be associated with workshops and lectures. This event will be combined with the 2012 CHINCOLD Congress being held in Chendu. About 12 professionals are expected to participate in this one-week tour.

Benefits of the training programs

This activity of ICOLD is highly appreciated by the national member committees and young professionals who have benefited from these programs. This work is strengthening ICOLD and building new bridges between its committee members and industry professionals. Capacity building is one of the key issues for water and energy resources development and management in the less-developed countries and also in developed countries where the need to bridge the gap between the old generation and the new generation of engineers constitutes a challenging issue.

A total of 16 engineers from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Morocco attended the two training sessions held in Turkey in 2011 and 2012. The engineers in this photograph took part in the 2011 session.
A total of 16 engineers from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Morocco attended the two training sessions held in Turkey in 2011 and 2012. The engineers in this photograph took part in the 2011 session.

The planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of complex hydroelectric and water systems requires highly skilled professionals, and ICOLD is contributing to train these professionals and provide for exchange of experience, knowledge and culture.

Prospects for the future

ICOLD is developing initiatives to implement and achieve its fundamental goals of disseminating knowledge and creating an environment for the harnessing of the huge water and energy potentials in less- developed countries where the needs are high. This is why ICOLD — in Cooperation with the African Development Bank, World Bank, African Union and other key institutions — launched the initiative for Africa, “Dams and Hydropower for Africa Sustainable Development: Urgently Needed Now!” in 2008.

This was a regional declaration for sensitizing decision-makers and all stakeholders to join their efforts for real progress in water resources and hydropower development. The goal was to address the urgent needs for clean water supply, electricity, food security and environmental protection and preservation for future generations through poverty alleviation and achievements of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN.

In addition, in 2012, during the ICOLD Congress held in Kyoto, ICOLD, the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, International Water Resources Association and International Hydropower Association launched the World declaration on water storage for sustainable development.

The aim of this declaration is to promote joint effort at the international level to address the challenges humanity is facing in the 21st century with regard to the needs generated by the growing world population, the effects of global climate change, and the need for the preservation and protection of nature. A common view raised focuses on the needs of water storage as a key solution to address the need for more food, clean and cheap energy, and protection of human establishments against floods and drought effects.

To push forward these initiatives, ICOLD is undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the issue of capacity building to set a global policy for capacity development within ICOLD. Our intent is to extend and improve these training programs and also to support capacity building for dam engineers in ICOLD. ICOLD has set up an ad hoc committee on capacity building in dam engineering that is working to endow ICOLD with a systematic policy and action plan. The committee has 10 members who are working to issue these policy documents, which are due to be prepared and adopted by 2015.

This is in line with the ICOLD mission statement and the challenges of the 21st century. ICOLD is contributing to allow humanity to solve the rising crises with regard to water, food and energy and to create a good quality of life for human beings worldwide in a sustainable manner.

Adama Nombre is president of the International Commission on Large Dams and is located in Burkina Faso. Luis Berga is honorary president of ICOLD and is located in Spain.

Previous articleWhy Every Solar Company Should Have a Blog
Next articleEco-friendly Farming: Sowing the Seeds of Renewable Energy

No posts to display