Developing Indonesian Capacity in Water and Sanitation: Lessons Learned and the Constraints Associated with Challenging Convention

By Davina Boyd, Rob Phillips and Goen Ho.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper critically examines a project aimed at improving Indonesian capacity in water and sanitation through a process of institutional strengthening. Funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) this involved the partnering of Murdoch University’s Environmental Technology Centre (ETC), Australia and Merdeka University’s Institute for Environmental Management and Technology (IEMT), Indonesia. Through a series of collaborative activities, the project sought to develop the capacity of IEMT staff to be better able to provide services and training to local government, NGOs, industry and academia on water and sanitation. The project comprised of three phases designed to 1) understand IEMT’s existing capacity; 2) identify the needs and priorities of IEMT’s stakeholders; and, 3) to further develop IEMT’s capacity through the joint implementation of a training-of-trainers workshop. Each of the phases was delivered with some success. However, by means of participant observation, interviews with project members and stakeholders as well as subsequent qualitative analysis the activities were critiqued identifying a number of areas of concern. Foremost, it was concluded that the training-of-trainers model was not appropriate in this context due to inconsistencies with good practice guidelines for capacity building and learning theory. Further, it was established that while the needs were assessed the extent to which they informed decision making was limited. It is suggested that these challenges are not uncommon in capacity building projects of a similar nature. This is due to the fact that the approach employed is often strongly influenced by the experience and expectations of the project members. And, that there is a lack of appropriate training models for use in capacity development from which to draw experience. As such, the resulting training is often the replication of a familiar approach that may do little to develop the capacity of the target audience.

Keywords: Capacity Building, Constraints, Critique, Training, Training of Trainer

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.129-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.181KB).

Davina Boyd

Murdoch University, Australia

Davina's research is broadly aimed at improving the process of developing capacity particularly the methods used to train and disseminate materials to decisions makers in academia, NGOs, industry and local government. In addition Davina works as a private consultant on a range of projects as an educational designer, project coordinator, researcher and facilitator.

Rob Phillips

Murdoch University, Australia

Dr Rob Phillips works in the Teaching and Learning Centre at Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia. He combines thorough pedagogical knowledge with strong information technology skills, and has broad, but practical research interests. These interests include evaluation of learning using ICT; making innovative use of technology; and project management.

Goen Ho

Murdoch University, Australia

Goen was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Technology Centre at Murdoch University. The Centre aims to develop technologies to assist with sustainable development. He was for many years its Director and more recently Chair of its Board of Management (


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