Skip to main content

IODE capacity building

IODE and Capacity Development

One of the major objectives of the IODE Programme is to assist Member States to acquire the necessary capacity to manage marine data and information and become partners in the IODE network. It is only when IOC member states have acquired this expertise at the national level that they can become an active partner in IODE and thus share their data and information with the other members of the "IODE family". The training does not only teach the principles of data and information but also promotes the use of "standards" amongst all IODE centres and thus achieve interoperability between these centres.

Capacity building has been a cornerstone of the IODE (International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange) Programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) since the programme’s inception in 1961. Between 1961 and 1997 the IODE capacity building programme was based upon four types of activities: (i) expert missions to Member States to advise on the establishment of national oceanographic data centres; (ii) organization of group training courses; (iii) support for internships in established national oceanographic data centres; and (iv) provision of equipment. This strategy was used for nearly four decades (1961-1997) and resulted in the successful establishment and operation of over 60 national oceanographic data (and information) centres in as many countries around the world. However, the programme had several major flaws: (i) the expert missions identified the capacity building requirements but IOC did not have the necessary financial resources to assist the visited member states in a substantial way; (ii) training courses were not followed up by interaction with the trainees, nor was any support provided (e.g. equipment, feedback) to ensure that the acquired knowledge could be applied. In the case of developing countries, the impact of IODE capacity building efforts was therefore often unsatisfactory and did not have long-term effects. An additional flaw was that no standard training curriculum existed

Since the late 1990s IODE designed a new way to develop capacity in (developing) member states. This new "strategy" is based upon these four elements:

  • providing equipment
  • providing training
  • providing seed funding for operational activities of newly created data centres and marine libraries
  • work in a regional context, addressing common (regional) as well as individual (national) goals

This innovative strategic approach was called the ODIN (Ocean Data and Information Network) strategy and was used as from 1997.

The Ocean Data and Information Network (ODIN) strategy

This new strategic approach was applied first in Africa within the framework of the Ocean Data and Information Network for East Africa (ODINEA), co-funded by the Government of Flanders between 1997 and 1999 and covering IOC Member States in Eastern Africa. The approach was successful and this led to the development and implementation of the ODINAFRICA-II (2000-2003) and ODINAFRICA-III (2004-2008) projects that covered 20 (for ODINAFRICA-II) or 25 (for ODINAFRICA-III) IOC Member States in Africa.

It is noted that the Government of Flanders supported ODINAFRICA-III (2005-2009) and supports ODINAFRICA-IV (2009-2013). See more HERE

The success of the ODIN approach was such that other regions adopted the same strategy: ODINCARSA for the Caribbean and South America, ODINECET for European Countries in Economic Transition, ODIN-Black for the Black Sea region, ODINCINDIO for countries in the Indian Ocean region, and more recently ODIN-WESTPAC for Western Pacific countries and ODIN-PIMRIS for small Island Pacific States.

One of the core success elements of the ODIN strategy is the two-tier approach in terms of product and service development: ODIN projects deliver regional products and services (eg regional data bases and info bases) but each partner country also receives support to develop products and services that are specific to national or even local priorities and needs. This approach has led to a wealth of products developed at the national level going from research oriented taxonomic databases to “what do I find on the beach” brochures aimed at primary school children. This approach was found to maximize involvement and buy-in from the partner institutions and partner experts thereby maximizing the potential for long-term sustainability of the established infrastructure and expertise.

Find out more about the OceanTeacher History