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Effects of capacity building methods might not be enough

Water by Daniela Linares
  • In most of research and development projects there’s a capacity building component, but are these efforts effective?
  • EfD researchers conducted a study that shows that capacity building workshops had no impact on behavior.

A recent study led by EfD Central America (EfD-CA) researcher Francisco Alpízar and Paul Ferraro from John Hopkins University, published in Nature Climate Change, revealed that training workshops held in Central American communities -aimed at providing the necessary climate adaptation tools to community based water supply organizations (CBWSOs)- were not able to change the people’s behavior regarding water management practices.

The workshops were the final dissemination stage of a three-year research project called Adapting Community-Based Water Supply in Central America to a Changing Climate (AC3), ran by EfD-CA host institution CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center).

Researchers wanted to test if these workshops were effective, this is why they decided to throw a randomized controlled study (some communities were receiving the training while others were not), to finally evaluate the real impact on water pricing practices.

“Applying a scientific lens to measure the impact of our science is not a typical scientific study. That's the conclusion we came to after completing a study that examined whether an effort to develop and disseminate locally-relevant climate science in a drought-prone area changed the way in which communities managed their scarce drinking water”, stated researcher Paul Ferraro in Nature’s Behavioral and Social Sciences blog.

Researchers detected no differences in pricing and non-pricing management practices of participant versus non-participant councils. These results suggest weaknesses in the common practice of using simple workshops for delivering capacity building and climate science.

“We aim this study to incentivize efforts in experimentation in sustainability and adaptation programs, to have more evidence in the effectiveness of capacity building and dissemination stages. In time we can begin to build a more credible proof for encouraging greater uptake of adaptation behaviors globally” shared Francisco Alpízar.

To read Nature’s Climate Change editorial article that summarizes the importance and results of this article click here.

To access the peer reviewed article  “The impacts of a capacity-building workshop in a randomized adaptation project” click here, and to read Paul Ferraro’s blog post click here.