Within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Mekong River Commission and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, signed 19 November 2001, in Phnom Penh, MRC has requested UNESCO-IHE to develop an Integrated Training Strategy and Programme.
The aim of the Integrated Training Strategy and Programme was to bring the various training needs of MRC under one umbrella and to address these needs through one comprehensive and coherent training programme.
In the assessment of MRC training needs, particular emphasis was paid to the Water Utilisation Programme (WUP), because within most other MRC programmes there have been earlier training needs assessments.
A comparison of the training needs under WUP with those identified for BDP, EP and other MRC programmes was the basis for establishing a strategy for an integrated MRC training programme, which avoided overlap or duplication and therefore was able to integrate all MRC training activities. Obviously, current training initiatives had to be taken into account in formulating the Integrated Training Programme.
In 2001 - 2003, the MRC was in the process of moving from a "project" to a "programme" approach. Before the year 2000, MRC activities were shaped in the form of many, relatively small, projects that generally reflected member country national interests or donor development preferences.
Since then, however, MRC has developed a comprehensive series of programmes, the collective purpose of which is to achieve MRC's goals and reach towards its vision.
To support the move towards an MRC "programme" approach, MRC's training and capacity building activities needed to make the same move.
Care needed to be taken to prevent overlaps between the various training activities, a certain degree of "workshop tiredness" among staff and consequently inefficiency in the overall training expenditure. In addition, gaps in training and capacity building occured as a result of a lacking overall vision on training needs.
Particularly the integration of knowledge and skills did not get due attention as long as training needs were formulated in isolation within the programmes, while it is the interaction between the programmes which will give added value to basin planning and management.
The rapid development of MRC, its high ambition of becoming a world class international river basin organisation, the associated large and diverse need for training, and the inefficiency of the past scattered approach to training required a more structured and programmatic training approach.
In such an approach the overall training programme was underpinned by a coherent training strategy that directly related to the mission of MRC and the human resources needed.
The advantage of this integrated approach was that training of people was put in the context of a human resources development plan. Another advantage was that it became easier to implement one MRC-broad system of training quality assurance.