Working out the initial steps of realising the National Center for Water Modelling in Colombia
Netherlands Enterprise Agency
The end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 saw Colombia hit by heavy floods. Hundreds of people perished and the country’s physical infrastructure suffered extensive damage. Large areas of Colombia have been plagued for years by heavy and persistent rainfall, caused by natural phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña. The effects of climate change, the increase in rainfall and flood frequency – but also drought – are all factors having a negative impact on Colombia’s economy and infrastructure.
It is the Colombian government’s ambition to set up a leading national modelling centre – the National Center for Water Modelling in Colombia – for building hydrological and hydraulic models for short- and long-term forecasting on:
River run-off under wet and dry circumstances, including extreme events (both floods and drought)
The centre’s activities should focus on supporting decision-making on the sustainable development of the country.
Supporting the realisation of the National Center for Water Modelling
On the basis of its expertise and experience in water management, the Netherlands was asked to advise on a modelling centre for Colombia. Support would be supplied by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Rijkswaterstaat (an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) and the Netherlands embassy in Bogotá. In 2011, the Netherlands signed a memorandum of understanding with the Colombian national department for planning. This Dutch trio forms the basis for this collaboration.
Twynstra was asked for support with:
Identifying the aspects necessary (or to be developed) for the national centre through desk research and interviews with a number of key partners during a short trip to Colombia. The concern here was with aspects such as governance, sustainable financing, organisational design, strategic positioning and a support base for the centre, in which Deltares (an independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface) contributed essential knowledge and experience on water modelling
Realising the first rough draft of a terms of reference/implementation plan for this centre that would include the most important necessary aspects, the first steps to be taken, the most important secondary conditions, the opportunities and risks
Drafting advice for possible involvement of the Dutch government, specifically the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Rijkswaterstaat, in the implementation phase.
A four-step approach, culminating in advice on how to proceed with further implementation, was envisioned. Desk research and exploratory discussions with, among others, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Rijkswaterstaat and Deltares led to an initial diagnosis for setting up the centre based on four main pillars:
Strategy and policy
Implementation and organisation
Governance and control
Accountability and supervision.
This four-pillar set-up formed the basis for the interactive workshops and discussions with the key stakeholders during the trip to Colombia. The key aspects for setting up the centre were reviewed from the different fields of interest using the ‘business model canvas’ (see figure below). This prompted three questions:
What are the expectations for the centre: in other words, what added value does it bring?
What should the first steps be in setting up the centre?
What issues or elements should be taken into consideration?
The interactive workshops and discussions, supplemented by a ‘critical friends’ session in the Netherlands not only resulted in an integrated diagnosis of the current situation, opportunities and critical success factors, but also in an adaptive growth model for implementation, in which the long-term ambition for this centre could be contextualised.
This growth model assumed that the centre would be launched under the wing of IDEAM in close cooperation with the key stakeholders. Our advice put forward a three-step development as one possible way to further develop the centre into a recognised, autonomous entity:
In the first six months the core team will, as far as possible, work on topics to get the organisation operational, such as knowledge and information development to realise ‘showcases, stakeholder management and communication and business development
The following 1-3 year period would see the initial collaboration with the key stakeholders deepened and consolidated by such means as a clear method for water modelling using collectively defined standards and protocols
This would ensure that in five years’ time the centre will have developed into an (inter)nationally recognised institute with a partner network and a single system offering a consistent data and information base.
Integral diagnosis on the basis of desk research, interviews and interactive workshops
Overall stakeholder analysis
Implementation plan, including the first steps for setting up the National Center for Water Modelling in Colombia, focusing on aspects such as governance, sustainable financing, organisational design, strategic positioning and a support base for the centre
Advice to the Dutch government on possible further involvement in the realisation of this centre.