Exploring the Water-Food Nexus Across Basins in Iran

The agriculture department of the Netherlands embassy launched a Shiraka tailor-made training program on ‘Water Management and Food Security Nexus in Iran’. 30 Iranian water professionals, policymakers and researchers from public and private organizations participated in this five-week interactive online training. The training was organized by The Hague Academy for Local Governance in collaboration with Wageningen Environmental Research and Iranian experts.

The first three weeks focused on getting to know each other and on content matter including ‘introduction to water governance and food security’ and ’water governance frameworks’. The latter explaining and differentiating between various frameworks of water governance. Participants then started to picture their challenges, reflecting and merging the content of the course with their own experiences through a ‘picture your challenges’ exercise. This proved to be highly interactive, bringing the views of participants into view which was then shared in the plenary. 

‘We (often) ignore the environmental part of IWRM in our projects. Water extraction has imposed a heavy toll especially on the environment.” Jamshid Ghadermazi (Kurdistan Agri-Jahad)

“As a facilitator who has been working with CSOs and NGOs, I can say that capacity of non-governmental sectors has grown significantly in the last decade”. Vahid Jafarian (FRWO)

Mind-maps and Fishbone diagrams

Once familiar with the key frameworks of water governance and the main pillars of food security, the participants were divided into four groups and were asked to provide recommendations to improve water governance in the Kashafrood catchment area based on the building blocks for good water governance. With the help of facilitators, this group exercise allowed the participants to apply their knowledge and develop a strong ‘online’ teamwork spirit. In addition to the group work, they dived deeper into water governance, water diplomacy and stakeholder participation in the context of Iran.

Subsequently new teams were formed and grouped in accordance to the four main basins in Iran: Karkheh, Zayandehrood, Mashhad, and Urmia Lake. Participants were asked to create an individual mind-map and fishbone diagram for their team’s basin. Mind-maps allowed participants to creatively visualize the many interconnected components of their basin, organized into several themes. Fishbone diagrams were then used to explore the underlying causes of an identified problem in the basin, across several categories.

Back-home action plan

The training ended with a strong feeling of team spirit amongst the participants. Looking ahead to the next steps, the upcoming training-visit to the Netherlands during the final call provided a sense of continuity. It was also apparent during the call how motivated the participants were to work on their Back-Home Action Plan. This is an outline of the activities and timeline of the change they want to create in their context.

As this was a first experience into online training, it was found that the content was both useful for the participants and relevant to the challenges they face in their own organizations. Since the participants come from diverse water sectors, and background, this exercise allowed them to view the issues facing their team’s water basin from different angles.