Final Report on Water Knowledge Fair 2006


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Publication Title

Final Report on Water Knowledge Fair 2006 (15 – 17 November 2006)

Publication Type

Final Project Report & Lessons Learned


K-Fair Task Force (lead author: Dessislava Raykova)

Publication Date

19 April 2007 (v. 02 Jun 07)


Publication URL





Main Lessons

idea and the business case
  • It’s important to develop a clear and convincing business case in the first place shortly following the project mandate and before starting any brainstorming or activities towards the content or design of a knowledge fair!
  • A proper sequencing of project steps with a clear time plan including tolerances for adjustments is essential for such a project – especially given the degree of novelty / innovation.
  • When project management of such innovative undertakings is kept in-house, there should be at least two persons fully dedicated to the event who will ensure the project management and the project support sides.
  • A task force should be established (at a later stage of the process) with clear responsibilities assigned to each individual task manager,
  • It should be considered to assign (or hire esternally) one person as full-time project manager .
Outsourcing and procurement
  • Sufficient time needs to be allocated for planning and clear definition of requirements and tasks in the TOR for sub-contractors.
  • In terms of UNDP procurement procedures – Request for Proposals (RFP) is a better choice than Request for Quotations (RFQ); particularly for the creative parts (web-design/solution). The latter relies on the offered price as the only criterion for selection (lowest price winner) whereas the former requires a set of quality criteria to be elaborated prior to the launch of the bid. Consequently, applicants should prepare much longer and more sophisticated proposals as well as technical documentations (foresee enough time for that too!).
Website Development
  • Design of the web-platform is of utmost importance. It should be luring, interesting and surprising. Web-fairs are one-time event with limited duration. Therefore they should be very interactive, teasing while also easy to access and use (e.g. real chat, live presentations/panel discussions, video streams, possibility to see who else is in the "room", etc.).
  • It is desirable for the software to be reusable for other online events;

(iii) Connectivity issues are important, should be thought of and appropriately resolved before the launch of the event. Web content should be adapted to the low speed of access in many countries in order to reduce the risk of losing customers and visitors;

  • Server's ability to work efficiently under heavy load was not sufficient, especially for country in the Arab States region. In the future, it will be worth using the worldwide content caching facility as in use for HDR.
  • Two-phased approach: It’s important to time the development of the site (and include this in the TOR and budget of the sub-contract of the web-developer) in such a manner as to have ample time for proper testing, and the flexibility to adjust or even re-do parts of the site BEFORE the content is uploaded/entered.
Information flow, reporting and monitoring;
  • Create a mailing list and always include all members when exchanging information
  • when sub-groups or bilateral communication is more adequate (to solve or decide on a sub-task), mail out regular summaries or updates to the entire mailing-list
  • Document and distribute decisions, and observe & monitor deadlines for doing so
Cross-regional collaboration
  • when more than one office (physical location) are involved, it’s probably advisable to assign overall coordination responsibility to one of them
  • properly plan task and work load distribution
  • exchange information in a regular and regulated manner (see also above)
CO involvement
  • In principle, most CO colleagues are willing to contribute to such endeavors; but most of them will need significant moral support and motivation to deliver their share. Regular reminders (also calling them up besides e-mailing) seem necessary
  • It seems beneficial from a moral point of view to involve CO colleagues from the beginning, and to arrange the contributing in such a manner as for all to see the progrees of the others (“peer-pressure”)
CoP mobilization & media
  • Don’t take for granted participation of in-house colleagues and thus don’t focus all mobilization effort to external audiences/participants.
  • using existing tools (WaterWiki) fro CoP-members to contribute their cases / write-ups can have a welcomed side-effect of (a) awareness building regarding available KM tools (walking through / “forcing” to use it) and (b) technical capacity buildingh in it’s use (“learning by doing”)
  • besides all technical and content aspects, don’t forget to liaise with CO communication officers early on

Conclusions and Recommendations for similar web-based knowledge fairs in the future

Organizing UNDP’s Water Knowledge Fair as the organization’s first virtual fair ever was a demanding task but the well-organized team of staffers from Bratislava and Beirut have managed to tackle all the obstacles and hurdles with the final product being a fair that has moved the boundaries and has set new standards tracing a path for future organization of similar events on other topics. The fair has promoted the most innovative community of practice activities in the UNDP. The fair has broadened the horizons, enabled the exchange of experiences and ideas and showcased some of the innovative approaches to water governance in both regions. It was a great opportunity to, at low cost and easy participation via the internet, highlight achievement and gain exposure and recognition of UNDP’s best practices, especially as it coincided with the launch of 2006 Global UNDP Development Report dedicated to water. The fair has positioned UNDP as a credible partner in water governance and has provided an opportunity to codify the good practices and lessons in water governance and capture them in a lasting and efficient way through the water fair web site and/or connecting it to WaterWiki. Web-based fairs seem appropriate tools for various purposes – from community mobilization through raising awareness to the creation of something that stays and serves the practitioners in the long run. However, its impact could even be strengthened if the framework is chosen somewhat different. Possible ways to improve the impact of the fair:

  • The more interactive the website, the higher the chance that it attracts more visitors and/or keeps their interest at higher levels and thus motivates them to visit more “exhibitions”, participate in more on-line activities (quiz, discussions, chats and submitting comments, contribute to ‘games’, etc.); the potential risks are (a) that more bandwidth is needed (discriminating low-connectivity participates) and (b) loss of overview or easiness to navigate on the site.
  • The duration of the “life” discussions and of the fair altogether must be long enough; the feedback indicated that participants would have whished at least one or two days to get familiar with the website and discussion topics, before feeling “fit” to actively contribute to the discussions themselves. A duration of one week rather than 3 days seems appropriate.
  • An on-line fair could be used as departure point for a regional background paper / study, collecting knowledge and contributions from a wide range of practitioners, as well as concrete data and figures;
  • It appears that tying it to a live side-event could give such a virtual event additional ”life” and profile.
  • The site itself could be “reused” again, or the fair be organized as regularly occurring “on-line events”; the advantage would be that people would be familiar already with the site technicalities and navigation; the obvious risk that it looses attractiveness.

Finally, one recommendation would be for UNDP to develop a generic technical solution that could be used to organize a series of virtual meetings/fairs for similar projects, including e.g. also launches of HDRs and other major reports (linked to “virtual roundtables” to discuss content and application), virtual CoP-meetings, cross-regional technical or substantive knowledge exchange or learning events, etc. One option to be considered could also be to make use of emerging new forms of “virtual worlds and meeting places”, such as “Second Life” (


See also

External Resources


 WATER FAIR final report draft 06 02 07.doc

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