Friday, May 7, 2010

My Outcome Number 1

For me, one of the biggest outcomes of our project was something that I learned about working in a group. I learned, that if one sticks too heavily to his own vision, and get’s irritated about everything and everyone that is trying to hinder the vision to become true, one doesn’t get anywhere in a group work. I had to give up with some of my ideas, and accept some of others' ideas that I wasn’t so excited about in the beginning, but that only enabled our group to proceed. It is important to see where the group can get, with its potential and limitations, and head there, not somewhere inside some individual member’s head.

I think we all learned to compromise and listen to each other better during the course. In our last meeting before the final critique I said: “our group work has improved little by little the whole spring.” I really feel so. And I think that is a real achievement for all of us three.


In the beginning of the course we were told that writing a blog will be one of the learning methods. I was very happy to hear that, because I like blogging very much and think that it's a good channel to share thoughts, links and other stuff, plus interact within the group as well as with people outside our group. So what happened? Our blog wasn't benefited as much as it could've been, because the main way of communication was email, in the end. More or less 5 writings were posted each month, of which I personally probably posted the least.

I still think it's a good idea to make the students create their own blog. We could've shared our memos from the meetings here! That way also the "outsiders" who are interested in our latest proceedings could've been informed. Oh well, it's needless to say "we should've..." now. I thinks the quality of our posts was pretty high: many times there was a lot of substance and own reflections. Sending the memos here, not via email, would've made our blog actually really active and high-quality!

For the course personnel, I advise to give this hint to the future SGT students: use the blog for every kind of information sharing: memos, links, photos, reflections, sharing emotions. Also, only in the end of the studio I discovered the blogs of other groups. The blogs should be promoted among the groups in the very beginning! It would be fun if other groups would follow the blogs, too.

Helsinki Centre's future?

The course group work has laid an important platform for the Helsinki centre.But I believe that the effort should not end as the course ends.There are significant tasks which could take the initiation process to an official and a better stage.
As it has been stated,Finlands early active participation in the water sector(as in the Helsinki rules) and its good profile of managing shared water resources with neighbouring countries are the major driving forces behind.So what can be done next...

1.The related Finnish ministries (Ministry of :- Agriculture and forestry,environment,Foreign affairs) should go through the course results(report: vision,mission,structure of the centre).Then there should be organised a meeting betweeen officials from the three ministries to discuss their views on the proposal for the Centre.

2.One task could be promoting  the idea and the plan for the Centre at least within the Aalto university.
Here other institutions which were not involved in the first phase(e.g Universities Partnership for Transboundary Waters,Tampere university) can comment on the results.In addition we have been lately informed that there are US institutions working on transboundary disputes;it would also be wise to find out more information and their current activities.

3.Moreover,one can provide minor public opportunities for further discussions and development of the ideas compiled by the group.This can help to assess the public stand towards the idea of establishing the center in Finland.

4.The other critical task would be to look for a first time financial support to test the centre's plan with a small pilot case.The proposed project coordinator,secretary and legal expert can at this first case be chosen by Aalto university professionals.

There may also be other simple tasks which can lend voice to the centre's establishment. Generally the effort can be taken further and further...until  Finlands knowledge and technical experience on the water sector  contribute to Global peace in transboundary water areas through the HCTW.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

News on the pilot case area:Lake Turkana

The Helsinki centre's pilot case area is on the news this Tuesday.The news was not directly about the Gibe III dam which was the centre's pilot case.But it indicates that the proposed actions by the centre will solve lots of problems in the area in addition to the dam controversy.
According to the Kenyan broadcasting corporation , a Militia group from Ethiopia have controlled the fish rich Dogonyang belt displacing over 200 Turkana fishermen along lake Turkana.It is also stated that following the displacement, fish harvesting on the lake has gone down.A humanitarian worker Sam Akale says "There is rising insecurity at the border after local fishermen protested against the dam on river Omo, the main tributary to Lake Turkana,".

The resulting meeting scheduled to take place will among other issues discuss the rising insecurity along the Ethiopia- Kenya border where local pastoralists have engaged each other in conflicts.

The centre's proposed actions included facilitating a binding agreement and strengthening the regional monitoring unit using professionals from the two countries.I believe these and related actions of the centre provide a sustainable management system and legislation framework for the area.In the near future it is likely  that  the tension on trans boundary water areas and the demand for shared water resources grows.Helsinki Centre for Transboundary Waters works for preventing TW conflicts by sustainable management and legislation.There is really a need  for such a centre. [Disputed dam fuels Ethiopia-Kenya border attacks]

Finland for Peace Mediation

The Finnish Foreign Ministry published today a study entitled “Peace Mediation – Finland’s Guidelines”. (see )

 According to the study, Finland's role in peace mediation can and should be strengthend further. It states that peace mediation is increasingly important in international crisis prevention. I browsed through the study and looked for any mentions of water. I found something! The study says: "Tutkitaan mahdollisuuksia panostaa välitystoiminnan kehittämiseen osana luonnonvaroista johtuvien konfliktien ratkaisua.", which can be translated to "Possibilities to peace mediation as a part of solving conflicts related to natural resources will be studied." If I understand it right (it IS sort of ambigous...), it means that Finland could take a more active role in solving water conflicts, as water is a fundamental natural resource, as a part of it's attempt to become an active peace mediator.

So... was our thought of HCTW's cooperation with CMI that far-fetched? Why couldn't Finland in particular take an active role in water conflict prevention? Don't we have perfect resources, knowledge and international status for that?

Just wondering whether we should contact Alexander Stubb.

ps. I don't know what happended to the layout of our blog some weeks ago, but at least for me it looked suddenly very messy. I tried to repair it but I couldn't, so I changed the layout completely... It's never too late! :)


In the final critique we presented briefly a poster that describes HCTW's profile, mission, activities and organizational structure. It was a useful task to prepare the poster for two reasons: (1) I hadn't ever done a poster. I don't know if I made it right, but at least it got me a bit further in knowing how to make a poster. (2) It made me sum things up, make it simpler, clearer, more populistic. We were finishing with our report while making the poster, and we actually took sentences FROM the poster TO our report.

A good learning experience.

Experience from Group work and learning process

There was a great deal of experience in the group work and learning process of the whole course.
I, at the beginning of the course, was not positive about working in a case which is totally different from my background. But that was my first lesson since I did not prioritize and submit my choices properly. Then after deciding to go on with the case, we found out soon that one group member was not able to continue with the course. This was also discouraging, because it was like losing one opportunity of sharing different thoughts and experiences. Moreover the load on the 3 members left was predictable to be higher.
My first weeks of the course were then full of busy days finding background information about the case and familiarizing myself with the subject. I spent too much time not knowing which was relevant to our group’s case. Here the group discussions helped a lot. I brought all the information, in my understanding, to the discussion table and it was easier to sort out the relevant ones. I usually felt that my group mates have in one way or another come across water related topics; they were not total strangers. Fortunately, they were smart enough trying to find out everyone’s potential, information and way of contributing to the group work. I learnt how vast information from different sources can be brought to discussion to make it a sensible project plan.
Then the whole process was time taking with lots of meetings and discussions. I noticed finally that our mails and calendars were full of SGT meetings. Personally, even if I was giving the course all the energy I had, it often seemed a bit challenging to be satisfied with the result. Adjusting proper time for other course studies was also another challenge to overcome. It was really time demanding. Especially the last two weeks of the course were demanding for me. After all the group managed to do more than enough having the least number of members per group.It was wonderful to see the final results and visible outputs of the group work; wonderful enough to make me forget the exhausting days.