31 Capacity Building

From Blue Gold Program Wiki

Because an overall objective of Blue Gold has been to empower water management groups (WMGs) as the driving force for development, many of the capacity building activities are addressed under the four main interventions of Blue Gold, which are reported in sections C, D, E and F. Since the perspective of Section G is project management, this chapter on capacity building aims to present the ‘what, how and why’ of capacity building activities ie to catalogue ‘what’ activities and to explain ‘how’ and ‘why’ our approach evolved over time. 

The chapter starts with an inventory of the capacity building programs aimed at all local stakeholders (in government implementing agencies, local government, WMOs, LCSs, specialist farmers and private sector representatives), and is followed by a listing of the exposure provided to selected government staff through international visits, tours and specific courses. The chapter then continues under the heading 'Refocused Training' to explain the rationale for the move away from large scale training by external training organisations to locally-focused trainers who were familiar with the communities and the stage of organisational development, and the local environment. We then briefly explain why we refocused the homestead Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) from FFS Cycle 10 which started in April 2018 - much more is written about this in chapters 21 and 25. And the final section of the chapter explains the intended rationale for 'Vocational Training', and some background to its discontinuation.

Capacity Building Programs[edit | edit source]

Table 31.1 summarises the capacity building programs provided through Blue Gold under ten themes, showing that over 94,000 participants (M46% F54%) attended nearly 89,000 training days - which is the equivalent of 240+ training years or an average of 0.9 training days for each of the 800,000 polder residents. This does not include training provided through Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) for field crops (by DAE) or homesteads (by the Community Development Facilitators), which is covered under Section E Chapter 23 'Household outreach of commercialisation interventions'.

Table 31.1 Summary of Capacity Building Programs
Participants Training Days WMOs LCSs Specialist


BWDB DAE, DLS, DOF Other GoB LGIs Private Sector TA Misc TOTAL
Number of courses M F Total
A Organisational Development 12 7,272 3,460 10,732 23,966 9,963 2 147 168 452 10,732
B Water Infrastructure 6 9,292 6,072 15,364 16,711 2,112 12315 86 75 518 258 15,364
C Agriculture 13 526 188 714 3,285 107 274 3 200 5 125 714
D Farming-as-a-Business 19 953 837 1,790 5,817 40 1,053 5 85 200 357 1,790
E CAWM 6 945 145 1,090 2,466 34 256 111 450 239 1,090
F Practical Water Management 5 509 72 581 1,904 454 28 99 581
G WMO Partnership Development 5 2,513 573 3,086 3,086 1,517 189 219 1,133 28 3,086
H Women's Empowerment 7 17,608 39,030 56,638 26,852 55,983 263 8 4 200 30 150 56,638
I Cyclone Preparedness 2 86 51 1,37 274 124 13 137
J Monitoring, Reflection and Learning 10 3,128 831 3,959 4,310 3,544 8 5 402 3,959
Total 85 42,832 51,259 94,091 88,671 73,878 12,315 1,848 585 1,038 0 2,037 230 2,110 0 94,091
Ratio 46% 54% 79% 13% 2% 1% 1% 2% 0.2% 2%
  1. Excluding Farmer Field School (FFS) training
  2. Refer here to table with full details of capacity building courses

The table also shows the numbers of participants for each theme by their occupation. The majority (92%) of the capacity building targeted members of Water Management Organisations (79%) and Labour Contracting Societies (13%).

A full listing of all capacity building courses is also provided (see note 2 to Table 31.1) by theme. This listing contains the title of the course, its duration, number of batches, venue, date, lead organisation, and number and occupation of participants. Reports on many of the training courses are available in the File Library and may also be accessed from Table 31.1 by clicking on the specific category of training (eg B Water Infrastructure) in the left hand column of the table.

International Exposure[edit | edit source]

During the project, a number of opportunities were taken to provide exposure to selected key staff to the broader issues of development in a deltaic region.  A listing of the international training courses is provided in Table 31.2, with the title, location and dates for the course, its duration, and the number of participants and their sponsoring organisation. Reports on the training courses are available in the File Library but are also readily accessed from Table 31.2 by clicking on the name of the training course (eg Study Tour on 'Flood Control and Drainage Systems') in the left hand column of the table.

Table 31.2 International Training Courses
Name of Training Course Location Date No of Days Participants Trainee Days Remarks
M F M F M F M F M F M F M F Total
1 Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) Netherlands Nov-14 7 1 1 1 1 2 14
2 International Conference "Deltas in Times of Climate Change ii" Netherlands 24-26 Sep 2014 3 1 1 1 3 3 9 Others = PD SWAIWRPM
3 Study Tour on “Flood Control and Drainage System” Indonesia 19-27 Apr 2015 9 1 9 1 1 12 12 108 Others = Deputy Chief, Planning Commission
4 Multilevel Water Governance Hague Academy


26 Oct - 6 Nov 2015 12 1 1 1 12 Because of last minute complications with visas, no GoB nominees were able to join, and only one TA representative joined the course and prepared a report which confirmed its value. The GoB nominees attended the sessions in April 2016 (see Item 6 below).
5 Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) and comparison of UK/Netherlands Water Management Policy Approaches UK


1-12 Nov 2015 12 2 2 1 1 6 6 72 Others = PD SWAIWRPM
6 Multilevel Water Governance Hague Academy


4-15 April 2016 12 1 1 6 1 1 9 1 10 120 Others = Assistant Chief, Planning Commission
7 Advance Level Design and Life Cycle Costing of Sustainable Water Management Infrastructure Netherlands 14-27 Sep 2016 14 8 4 8 4 12 168 Attended by 12 mid-level engineers from BWDB Design Circle

Reporting: proposal DWA LCC&D 11mar_16

8 Workshop on towards better integration of R4D for improved food production systems in the Coastal Zone. IRRI SIIL Bangkok, Thailand 18-19 Oct 2016 2 1 1 1 1 2 4 Workshop was coordinated by USADI/IRRI Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL)

Attended by R4D: BARC, BRRI, BARI and 12 internationally supported projects working in the coastal zone Reporting: Polder Tidings vol1 nr2, Dec 2016

9 Organizing farmers as partners in agribusiness: optimising the performance of producers' organisations (OPPO) CDI, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands 17 Sep to 5 Oct 2018 20 1 1 1 20 Reporting: contents of course in WUR leaflet
Total 5 1 26 4 1 2 6 4 42 7 49 527

Refocused Training[edit | edit source]

In the first years of the Blue Gold Program, a number of WMG capacity building programs were provided, in particular training in Gender and Leadership Development (GLD), Accounts Keeping and Audit System (AKAS), and Organisational Management (OM). These were out-sourced to external training organisations, and were well-structured, classroom-based courses using interactive participatory methods.

Whilst these courses were all delivered by well-qualified, experienced and professional organisations, they:

  1. were framed around a standard set of courses with very little room for customizing the content (and with little local knowledge of the WMG which would help them to do so)
  2. fitted around a timetable which suited the training organisation – aiming to complete the target number WMGs set under the contract in the least possible time
  3. without an appreciation of local sources of information, knowledge or services – the networked partnerships which are the foundation of self-evolving WMGs.

The refocused approach aims to achieve something different:

“Support to a self-organizing network of WMOs should be built into the field operations from the beginning – encouraging WMOs to take control of their own establishment and the organisation of activities to the largest extent possible using a range of horizontal expansion methods.”

“Continuous partnership building between WMOs and LGIs, service providers, public and private organisations with relevant knowledge and information, as well as other programs and parties operating in the polders should be at the heart of the field operations.”

Figure 31.1 Capacity Building Cycle for WMGs

Unlike outsourced training firms, Blue Gold community development facilitators (CDFs) have a wealth of local knowledge:

  • of WMGs: their skills, interests, capacities and priorities;
  • of local conditions (markets, crops, water);
  • of local service providers in the public and private sectors;
  • of local examples of collective actions, CAWM, CII.

These CDFs are well-placed to build self-evolving WMGs by encouraging WMGs to take control of their own activities using an approach which encourages learning-by-doing.   The combined experience of the polder team (as agriculturalists, water management specialists, business developers, and community facilitators) means that the CDFs have a wide range of resources and ideas to build on interests of the WMGs, to guide them to fellow WMGs with successful implementation experience, and at the same time building partnerships with local sources of technical knowledge  – so that in the future WMGs can make decisions in an ever-changing environment based on good quality information (perhaps about market prices) and knowledge (about seed varieties, treatment of diseases etc).

The process of building WMG capacity includes a range of measures: experience sharing, facilitating issue-based discussion and problem solving by WMGs, horizontal learning, collective actions, exchange/exposure visits, and good practice expansion.

CDFs – working with individual WMGs - play a key role: they work with the WMG to diagnose the situation and to then define and implement an appropriate intervention to build WMG capacity (see Figure 29.1).

During 2017/18, courses run by training firms were brought to an end, and the responsibility for capacity building was transferred to polder teams. Many of the 2017/18 training/capacity building courses have therefore aimed at developing facilitation skills in BWDB/DAE/TA staff.

This change resulted in training courses being organised locally using locally available resources such as staff of DAE/DoF/DLS, CDFs, private sector input dealers and farmers with specialist knowledge (eg farmer trainers, catchment facilitators). Curricula were revised to include greater use of interactive methods such as hands-on practice (LCS training), visualisation (gender and leadership sessions) and applied planning (catchment planning training). This resulted in a training portfolio that was more practical, relevant and therefore more inspiring for the participants. Yet, the envisioned responsiveness of capacity building activities to specific needs of WMOs was not fully successful, with the the planning and content of training not being fully driven by staff in direct contact with the WMOs (ie TA polder teams); and with training programs continuing to be rolled-out for blanket coverage. Thus Blue Gold's attempt to refocus capacity building by decentralising responsibilities to polder teams has gained traction gradually, but still requires further empowerment of polder teams to fully realise the ambition.  

Refocused TA FFS[edit | edit source]

Figure 31.2 Economic and livelihood strategies

Blue Gold aims to reduce poverty by facilitating polder economic development, through increasing income and employment opportunities. (For further details, refer to Chapters 21 and 25). Economic development depends on rural transformation that can be observed in changes in broader agricultural and livelihood strategies of polder dwellers. We embraced a conceptual framework[1], used by the Dutch IOB and DFID, offering three major types of livelihood strategies relevant to the polders’ farming population.

Stepping up[edit | edit source]

These are farmers who depend on agriculture as main source of income, who have ownership and access to land or water bodies. Their economic situation can be improved by motivating them into commercial agriculture and agribusiness. Blue Gold investments in sluices, embankments and canals, in FFSs for field crops (by DAE), and other practical guidance in water management and farming-as-a-business are aimed to increase cropping intensity and profitability. Improved market linkages are essential to support this development and to make it sustainable.

Hanging in[edit | edit source]

The less privileged section of the households has limited access to crop production, limited access to finance, and lack skill and knowledge in modern agricultural practices. The transformation process supports them by investing in agriculture to survive, to secure the necessary food and required nutrition – which is the focus of the TA FFS programme. During the first five years, Blue Gold has implemented 10 cycles of FFS on either homestead production-poultry-nutrition module or fish-cattle rearing-nutrition module. Following the last ARM recommendations BGP reviewed the basics of the TA FFS program.

Stepping out[edit | edit source]

This group of polder dwellers use their skills primarily in non-farm activities, by providing labour in manufacturing and service sectors. They are often migratory in nature and move outside the polder whenever they find an opportunity to earn more. Skills development is the appropriate support strategy but is outside the scope of BGP.

During January 2018, a workshop reviewed Blue Gold’s experience with farmer field schools (FFSs) and FAO’s core FFS principles with the aim of refreshing and realigning TA FFS Cycle 10 (April to October 2018) with 2017 ARM recommendations and its call “not to lose the poverty focus”, in order to:

  • Reach more households
  • Target those neediest households with sufficient assets to participate
  • Deliver more demand driven content
  • Enhance women empowerment
  • Use DAE/TA farmer trainers (FTs) to lead FFSs
  • Facilitate market orientation and market systems development.

The ensuing modification included:

  • Instead of combining several modules into a single FFS (i.e. beef fattening, aquaculture, home gardening and poultry); several FFSs were organized according to one topic each, for better HH targeting and meaningful participation.
  • WMG executive committees, made aware of the TA FFS target group and objectives, choose specific FFS modules for their area based upon local needs.
  • Farmer Trainers (FTs), trained in 2017, were engaged to run FFS supported by CDFs experienced in facilitating FFS and by the broader polder teams.
  • By using FTs as facilitators, the number of TA FFS per cycle could be increased. BGP implemented 166 TA FFS in cycle 10 (an increase from 67 FFS in Cycle 10). Accordingly, the number of participants also increased, from 1,675 HH to 4,150 HH per cycle.
  • Properly integrating relevant market orientation aspects, including attention to basic financial literacy and decision making, and enhancing market access by mobile phone, collective action and networking. Most of this is of particular relevance to women empowerment.
  • Instead of being treated as stand-alone groups, the FFS groups were linked to other actors e.g. CAHW, vaccinators, resource farmers (RFs), extension agencies and other goods and service providers to explain their business model and develop linkages.
  • Booklets containing key messages from FFS sessions were prepared and distributed among participating farmers so that they in turn could pass messages to their neighbours and other interested visitors.
  • Resource Farmers (group leaders), mainly women, were trained on market orientation issues, such as how to organise collective actions, and were taken on market visits introducing them to different input suppliers and buyers. Thus, RFs could communicate with actors and engaged in face to face discussion with market actors to strengthen linkages.
  • Linking local resources such as RFs and FTs into the network of WMOs.

Vocational Training[edit | edit source]

The EKN Program Document (Section 5.2.6) set out a rationale for enhancing access to vocational training for families of the poorest members of WMGs. The aim was to provide disadvantaged youth - often primary school drop-outs - with training and subsequent employment by private sector enterprises. The Program Document recommended that priority was given to services provided by organisations, such as the Underprivileged Children's Education Programs (UCEP) which was already supported by EKN.

Whilst UCEP has educational establishments in Barisal and Khulna divisions, discussions indicated that their strength was in urban areas where there are good opportunities for private sector employment, and that - although UCEP had planned to increase coverage of rural areas - they were focused on strengthening their urban program.

A needs assessment[2] on vocational training opportunities was prepared in August 2016, which collected and summarised the needs, opportunities and challenges regarding vocational training in the polder areas. Stakeholders consulted for this assessment included representatives from WMGs, unemployed persons and drop-out youths (14-20 years of age) and service providers. A total of 148 participants from the community attended the focus group discussions (FGDs) and four service providers were visited.

Key findings from the discussions indicated that:

  • There is a need for a further study on local job market, looking into the demand and supply of trade-based technical skills. This will inform decision making on suitable trades more with concrete evidence.
  • More technological advancement happened in the area of agriculture and communication over the past five years. But the technical services are only sufficiently available in the market areas and are often of low quality and high cost.
  • Most of the technicians providing trade-specific technical services in the market are trained through informal on the job training. Dissatisfaction was expressed about the quality of learning and skills development from such informal training.
  • Clear preference expressed towards short courses (max. 1 year) and venues close to their area (preferably within 5 km radius). Some also requested for a tool box for the students so that they can use it easily to provide services in their locality.
  • Trades directly relevant to BGP must be given priority while selecting trade courses. However, specific needs of women, for those who have higher educational background and those training that will improve the overall quality of life (such as – paramedics/nursing) also needs to be considered while selecting the courses. Trainings that are already being provided by BGP must not be included under this vocational training initiative.
  • Two models of implementation (ustad model and conventional classroom model) can be tested simultaneously. In that case, selection of trades for both the models will be important. ‘Ustad’, is a reverential title in Bangla for an accomplished master in a specific trade.
  • Options for and access to economic activities for women are very limited. BGP can support in designing a focused intervention to encourage, engage and sustain girls in a wide range of technical training (both traditional and non-traditional) and eventually in the job market.  An advocacy campaign to raise awareness about how families can benefit from girls’ technical education can be very effective to bring more girls under this initiative.
  • WMGs can play a vital role in ensuring that the services are also available within the community and not in the market alone.

As a result of the needs assessment, recommendations were made for a pilot phase to test out different models of providing vocational training. This included adapting the ‘ustad model’, as developed by  the EKN-funded Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS) to provide guided vocational training out of small workshops in the repair and maintenance of agricultural equipment. In this model village-level technocrat entrepreneurs who run small workshops would act as ustad and take on and train apprentices for a fee. In January 2017, however, despite recommendations for continuation by the 2016 Annual Review Mission, EKN resolved to discontinue the vocational training (VT) program, and implementation was halted.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dorward, Andrew; et al. "Hanging in, Stepping In and Stepping Out: livelihood aspirations and strategies of the poor". Development in Practice. 19 (2). doi:10.1080/09614520802689535 – via ResearchGate.
  2. WP4 Vocational Training Opportunities: A Needs Assessment Report. August 2016.

See more[edit | edit source]

Previous chapter:
Chapter 30: Evolution of TA Organisational Arrangements
Blue Gold Lessons Learnt Wiki
Section G: Project Management
Next chapter:
Chapter 32: Agricultural Extension Methods and Communication

Section G: Project Management
Chapter 28: Project Management Arrangements Chapter 29: Technical Assistance: Context, Scope, Contractual Arrangements and External Service Contracts Chapter 30: Evolution of TA Organisational Arrangements organisation
  1. Introduction
  2. Implementing Modalities
  3. Development Project Proformas (DPPs)
  4. Project Meetings
  5. Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)
  6. Review Missions
  7. Annual Work Plans
  8. Polder Development Plans
  9. Progress Reports
  1. Context and Scope
  2. Contractual Arrangements
  3. TA Service Contracts
  1. Scope
  2. Scope of Technical Assistance in the Program Document
  3. Early Arrangements for the TA Organisation
  4. Evolution of TA Organisation
  5. Theory of Change: the emergence of practical approach to PWM
Chapter 31: Capacity Building Chapter 32: Agricultural Extension Methods and Communication Chapter 33: Horizontal learning
  1. Capacity Building Programs
  2. International Exposure
  3. Refocused Training
  4. Refocused TA FFS
  5. Vocational Education Training
  1. Communication aimed at beneficiaries
  2. Communication aimed at organisations
  1. Horizontal Learning – the approach in BGP
  2. Horizontal Learning – An assessment of BGP’s experience
Chapter 34: Monitoring and evaluation Chapter 35: Management Information System Chapter 36: Environmental Due Diligence
  1. M&E Objectives
  2. Approach to the Participatory Water Management Project Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  3. Key elements in the Project’s M&E Framework
  4. Impact assessment/Endline survey 2020
  5. Independence of M&E Reporting
  1. Background
  2. Establishing a WMG Tracker
  3. Management Information System (MIS)
  4. MIS Design and Development
  5. MIS Results Reporting
  6. WMG Tracker Closure
  7. Polder Dashboard
  8. Polder "Health Checks"
  9. Participatory Monitoring
  10. Post-Project Monitoring
  11. Self-assessment of WMG performance
  1. Objectives of the EIA Study
  2. Overview of EIA arrangement and consideration
  3. The modalities for carrying out the EIAs
  4. Alternative future modality
Blue Gold Wiki
Executive summary: A Call for Action
Section A: Background and context Section B: Development Outcomes Section C: Water Infrastructure


Summary and Introduction


Section D: BGP Interventions: Participatory Water Management Section E: Agricultural Development Section F: Responsible Development: Inclusion and Sustainability




Section G: Project Management Section H: Innovation Fund Files and others