On course for success

2 March 2002

The 5th international course on Hydropower and the Environment was recently organised by the International Centre for Hydropower in Norway

A chance to contribute more effectively to the development and management of environmentally friendly hydro power resources was the promise made to participants of the 5th international course on Hydropower and the Environment, which took place at the end of last year in Trondheim, Norway. And, from responses given by participants at the end of the course, it seemed this is exactly what was delivered.

Organised by the international-centre-for-hydropower (ICH), the course was aimed at senior professionals who deal with environmental issues in hydro power and dam projects. Admission requirements for the course was that applicants should hold a BSc degree in hydro power engineering or an equivalent background, and a minimum of ten years working experience. The 19 participants - from 15 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe - were therefore typically on a middle management level, which in turn meant the course was run more to a workshop style, with peer learning as important elements.

The major issues covered on the course included:

• Water resources utilisation.

• Environmental effects of hydro power.

• Trends in hydro power development.

• Licensing and the legal framework.

• EIA study process.

• Environmental management plans.

• Resettlement.

• Economic and financial aspects.

The 19 participants were also offered the opportunity to put theory learned into practice as three days of the course were used on a case study of the Mtera project in Tanzania.

WCD report

An important part of the course was the impact of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) report on hydro projects. The course lecturers - all senior experts with international working experience - were asked to relate their topics to the WCD report and its guidelines. The course was also concluded with a panel discussion in which representatives from NGOs were invited, allowing participants the opportunity to discuss projects and issues with hydro power opponents.

The course has been changed slightly every year since it was first introduced in 1998, based on feedback from the participants as well as developments in the hydro power sector. As an example, social impact assessment will gain more focus in future courses.

Based on a renewal of an agreement with The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, ICH will now have the opportunity to offer the Hydropower and Environment course in 2002-2004. This year's course will take place in Trondheim, Norway on 26 August-12 September.

So, was the 2001 course a success? Perhaps this is best left answered by one of the participants, a specialist engineer from Sri Lanka, who wrote: 'This course has changed our minds.We should not only value technical aspects but also value social and environmental aspects. I am sure that participants of this course will give due consideration to the environment of the society when they plan future projects.'

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