Thursday, 26 May 2011

Observations on change, disruptions and challenges in capacity development

By Rosalie Nongebatu - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Apia, Samoa - Climate Change comes with all kinds of capacity development challenges for small island developing states.

These challenges include new opportunities, knowledge and information, roles, responsibilities, partnership and new costs that come at an accelerating pace under projects with limited time frames.

This is based on observations made by Solomon Islands’ Frank Wickham at the Capacity Development Session this morning at the Lessons for Future Action Conference in Apia Samoa.

Frank Wickham, Solomon Islands
Mr Wickham said these new challenges demand change which in turn disrupts national programming and work plans, resource allocation, people’s time, national and local priorities and also national and local capacity.

According to Mr Wickham’s experiences in the Solomon Islands and the pacific region, projects which are now the main vehicles for dealing with climate change have an impact on the core budget of the government, non government organisations, and community organisations.

Some of the suggestions on how best to deal with these challenges include the strengthening of Human Resource Management Systems, longer time frames for projects, donor projects to include budgets, intervention and resources, and the development of a programmatic approach to address climate change.

Meanwhile commenting on capacity development, Dr Padma Lal of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Oceania Office said scientific assessments in term of climate science is valuable, but unless it is translated into the human well being and impacts, adaptation strategies many not meet the needs and aspirations of the communities.

On the capacity building assessments undertaken in the region, the Dean of Faculty of Science at the University of Papua New Guinea, Dr Frank Griffin questioned assessments on the regional, national and local level on capacity building, and what became of these assessments.

“We keep talking about capacity building, but what becomes of these assessments that have been undertaken? Quite a number of issues have been raised in these assessments and capacity gaps identified. The identified capacity gaps should be addressed and I think that is where the missing link is”.

“Some of these actions do not need extensive scientific knowledge - people or communities just need to be taught the methodology on how to do things such as sea grass assessments and the planting of mangroves, but that sort of action only happens in some countries that have institutions who are on the ground for a very long time.

Many of the activities we know about in terms of capacity building involve consultants or research groups who come into the countries down to the community level for a very short period of time and then leave again without leaving much behind, and in my view if we are talking about frontline climate change adaptation, those are the things that need to be attended to,” said Dr Griffin.

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