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9 Jul 2021 | SERVIR-HKH

Moving capacity building online

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webinar series “Women farmers and sustainable mechanization: Improving lives and livelihoods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya” organized jointly by ICIMOD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

The pandemic forced us to switch from face-to-face classroom and field training to the virtual classroom. It also forced us to confront the digital divide.

Moving capacity building online

Given the unusual circumstances that defined 2020, a lot of our capacity building work under the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC), the South Asia Network for Development Economics
(SANDEE), SERVIR-HKH, and the Climate Services Initiative had to be conducted online. In 2020, SANDEE organized its two flagship research and training workshops online. A workshop on environmental and energy economics for university faculty and researchers in Myanmar, and a writeshop for an edited volume on climate change and community resilience were also organized virtually. The 16th South Asian Economics Students’ meet, comprising of 130+ young economics students and faculty from seven South Asian countries, too was an online event. Shortly into the lockdown, HUC realised the need to shift its capacity building efforts online. Virtual trainings opened up opportunities for individuals from across the HKH and beyond to participate and learn from multi-disciplinary world-class experts, thus increasing the impact of learning manifold. A highlight was the training on the water-food-energy nexus organised with The University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, which received an overwhelming response with close to 500 applications. The SERVIR-HKH team organized two women-focused training events – Empowering Women in Geospatial Information Technology – in Nepal and Pakistan virtually. Similarly, the Climate Services Initiative organized a regional-level online training on analysing climate change projections for the HKH. The event brought together staff from national meteorological and hydrological services, researchers, and academicians in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.

The digital divide is widening along already existing axes of inequality. Access to the internet and the capability to use it as a resource, along with ownership of personal computers, is still limited to a small section of the HKH population.
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