Palestinian exposure visit on the Dutch triple helix model in the water sector


From 10 until 14 October, the Palestinian Water Sector Regulatory Council (WSRC) visited the Netherlands as part of the Tailor-Made-Training “Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration to Promote Innovation in the Palestinian Water Sector”.

The aim of the one-week visit was to learn about the Dutch experience of the triple helix model on the water sector. The Maastricht School of Management set up a full one-week program, where the participants of the exposure visit travelled throughout the Netherlands going to public, private and academic institutes where experiences on the water sector were shared.

The week started with a visit to World Waternet, a non-profit organisation, dedicated to improving sustainable access to clean, sufficient and safe water for all. World Waternet supports public water organisations through peer-to-peer knowledge exchange in water cycle management. It was a fruitful visit where experiences on water management in Palestine was discussed and how to improve knowledge exchange and partnerships. The following day, the group was welcomed by IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. IHE Delft is the is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world. This visit was of importance because as part if the triple helix, academia is an important factor. Our colleagues at IHE presented their research in Palestine, which concerned in particular the quantity of water coming from Israel and what would come from Palestine. We also got figures on the waste water flows between the two countries and on the money that could be saved if Palestine would treat its own water.

In the afternoon the Hoogheemraadschap Delfland was visited, where issues of water management were discussed. The Dutch system of involving the population in water management was explained and different ways of financing water management activities were discussed.

On Wednesday a visit was paid to the Free University where MSM presented an overview of water issues in the Netherlands, in particular the importance of the 1953 floods and the resulting Delta works. Ben Sonneveld presented research undertaken in Palestine in the framework of the current OKP Project, a successor to Paduco 1 and 2. The possible involvement of the WSRC and MSM in a follow-up project was discussed. His PhD student presented the need for transdisciplinary research, where besides a collaboration between the different disciplines, also a cooperation with other stakeholders is planned, in the stage of formulating the research issues, collecting the field work and formulating the recommendations based on the analysis.

A hands-on in-person training
The second part of the week, the group travelled to Maastricht, where on Thursday a full training day was scheduled to learn how to develop a project that will improve the WSCR and its services. The training was provided at the MSM facility in Maastricht. MSM Consultant Tom de Veer provided the training to the three Palestinian water sector experts from the WSRC. The objective of the training was to learn how to develop a project that aims to improve an organization and its service(s) with a focus on the Problem Tree and Theory of Change development related to problems in the water sector of Palestine as identified by the participants themselves during the training.

The training was a combination of theory with regard to the identification and formulation phases of the project cycle, in particular the Problem Tree and the Theory of Change, discussions focusing on the problems and possible solutions for the Palestinian water sector, and practical exercises to develop the Problem Tree and Theory of Change for the situation, problems and required change of the water sector in Palestine. The training was set up to not only develop knowledge and awareness among the participants with regard to the subjects covered but especially also to build initial skills among them that enable them to guide and facilitate the participative exercises and the development of Problem Trees and Theories of Change by other stakeholders in their sector once they are back in Palestine.

At the end of the day the participants came to the conclusions that they will have to put effort in the facilitation of these exercises with other stakeholders in the Palestinian Water Sector in order to develop further insight in what needs to and can practically be done to improve the water sector and in what sequence. It is in fact one step before embracing the Triple Helix model which two trainings of the Tailor-Made-Training focuses on previously. This is then followed by the development of effective, practical and achievable strategies to achieve the effects desired in an affordable and sustainable way. Where Triple Helix comes out to be an effective way of achieving this, and the earlier training pointed clearly in this direction, the strategies can be worked out to be based on Triple Helix collaborative efforts.

A learning experience from the regional water authorities
On the final day of the exposure visit, Guido Montulet together with Celine de Visser from Waterschap Limburg, provided a presentation about Waterschap Limburg, which is in charge of ensuring safe dykes, dry feet, clean water and sufficient water in the Province of Limburg. Together they gave an insight into among others how the Netherlands went from 1000+ regional water authorities to currently 21 regional water authorities. This change in regional water authorities that took many years, is an interesting subject for the WSRC, as the Palestinian water sector is trying to reduce the number of regional water authorities, which is currently 300+ to a lower number where the water authorities are cooperating better towards water security in the region. Furthermore, Florian Goldschmeding, a PhD candidate of Maastricht University joined the conversation with the Palestinians as he is closely working together with Waterschap Limburg regarding his PhD research on multiple value creation. An excellent example of how academia and the public sector can collaborate and work towards solutions for improvement based on research. Lastly, the collaboration between countries regarding water management of rivers was discussed, with an example very close to the MSM premises at the Tapijn Kazerne in Maastricht. Namely, the Jeker River, that is flowing through the Stadspark, next to the Tapijn Kazerne. This river is an excellent example, of how the Netherlands and Belgium try to work together to ensure clean water, which can be challenging as both countries have different water related regulations in place.

In the afternoon it was time for the final visit of the week for the water experts of the WSRC. They visited the water company Brabant Water. Two staff of Brabant Water presented how the water company operates, including the technicalities of the water sources and water systems as well as the tariff system, the history of the company and other relevant aspects. It was interesting to see that the situation in which the Palestinian service providers operate today are comparable to how the then many different water utilities of Brabant operated about 50 years ago. Since then they all merged into one provincial water company (Brabant Water) which is a process that can logically be expected to also happen over time in Palestine, because it increases efficiency and quality but also because this same process happens throughout the world in relatively similar ways. The main focus of the visit to Brabant Water however, was the training facility that Brabant Water has set up together with a technical high school in Brabant (Koning Willem I College) in a Triple Helix type of model. The two hosting staff of Brabant Water, themselves intensively involved in the training facility, showed that with relatively limited investments high level TVET trainings can be provided to vocational water technicians and that the trainings are custom-made to the learning needs of each individual trainee (often technicians already employed by a water utility and each coming to the training facility, usually one day per week, with very specific learning needs).

With the final visit at Brabant Water, the exposure visit came to an end. MSM together with the Palestinian participants looks back at a fruitful exposure visit, where many new insights were gained. The participants returned back to Palestine full with new knowledge and motivation to work on the triple helix model in the Palestinian water sector. With this exposure visit this Nuffic funded TMT carried out by MSM in collaboration with the WSRC has come to an end. Throughout this TMT project a triple helix platform has been realized where the public, private and academic sector have access to information regarding the water sector but also the opportunity to contribute and share information. Furthermore, 50+ participants have been trained throughout 4 training sessions on the triple helix model, stakeholder mapping and multi stakeholder solutions, business model development for regional authorities and benchmarking strategies in the water sector. All these training topics came together during the exposure visit where they could see how these topics have been combined in the triple helix models of the Dutch water sector.

About the project
This Tailor-Made-Training is a collaboration between WSRC and MSM and focuses on building the capacity of WSRC and other main stakeholders in the water sector (government, academia and private sector) on the concept of the Triple Helix model. Part of this TMT are several training sessions, a digital platform and a work visit to the Netherlands. 

Orange Knowledge Programme
This Tailor-Made-Training is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies

This TMT project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.‚Äč We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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