With public participation seen as key to long-term results, IWMI’s ReWater MENA project is working with local partners to build skills and launch participatory processes. The SIDA funded- project in Lebanon recently facilitated a three-day training on «Public Participation» at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), from 27 to 29 May 2019. The facilitators, LISODE, are a French enterprise that guides the participatory processes in the project and ensures all project’s national and local activities are being implemented in a participatory way. Processes are aimed at involving and engaging all stakeholders in research and decision-making steps, starting from the national institutions to the end-users.
At the national level, LISODE will also design and facilitate National Learning Alliances (NLAs). NLAs are multi-stakeholder platforms that aim to brainstorm and provide inputs to the different pillars/aspects of the project. At the local level, Lisode will design and carry out a participatory process in “Sour”, to contribute to the development of a local plan for water reuse.
At its first event, LISODE trained local water reuse consultants and national uptake partners on applying the holistic approach of “public participation” and more specifically, on introducing participatory processes to ReWater MENA project. Regional and local Representatives of several Lebanese public institutions have attended the training, such as the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Environment, the “Bekaa” Water Establishment, the South Lebanon Water Establishment, and the Beirut and Mount-Lebanon Water Establishments. A representative from LIBNOR (the Lebanese Standards Institution) was also among the trained group, as well as a researcher specialized in water policies in Lebanon.
During the three-day training, LISODE delivered both theoretical and “learning-by-doing” sessions that enabled participants to grasp the knowledge of the public participation with its various forms. Furthermore, participants had the chance to learn the importance of implementing an effective process of stakeholders’ mobilisation, as well as the main role of a facilitator and the body postures any facilitator should have towards a group of various stakeholders.
During the workshop, participants were divided into two groups; they designed respectively two participatory processes to be introduced to the water reuse models of two wastewater treatment plants, located in Sour and Joub Jannine.
LISODE facilitators demonstrated a variety of diverse participatory tools, from which the trainees selected the applicable and appropriate participatory tool for each step of their activities.
At the end of the training, participants adopted two new and creative evaluation techniques when they worked in groups or individually to make their own assessment of the training. Participants evaluated the training positively, they believed that it will have a useful impact on their daily work as well as on their contributions to the project.
Participants found the interactive approach of the training to be essential and informative. “They are ready now to design and implement the participatory processes in the project’s multiple activities,” said Marie Helene, National Project Coordinator in Lebanon. “Over three days of training, we managed to embrace the knowledge of public participation in water reuse and wastewater management” said Salim Fahd, Agriculture Researcher from LARI.