International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Thematic Report: Stakeholder Analysis


The TDA should have a detailed stakeholder analysis as a thematic report, separate from the body of the TDA. The thematic report should be a full analysis that is summarized in the TDA highlighting the most important findings. The thematic report is valuable for reference in later stages of the project, as it establishes a critical baseline of attitudes, beliefs and opinions about the issues the project is addressing.

A stakeholder analysis is necessary in order to understand the perceptions, needs, interests, and concerns of the stakeholder groups in the water system. It is important to include stakeholders from a wide range of socioeconomic status and education levels, from different locations, professions and equal gender balance.  An example of good practice when carrying out a stakeholder analysis is presented in Box 5, below.

Box 5: The Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project Stakeholder Analysis – An Example of good practice:

The Black Sea Stakeholder Analysis involved conducting quantitative surveys of stakeholders throughout the region. This analysis identified stakeholders of the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project and provided insights into the concerns, priorities, capacities and perceptions of stakeholder groups throughout the region in regards to specific transboundary environmental issues. It also identified where tensions or potential tensions could emerge as a result of different expectations and priorities for Black Sea resource uses.

The stakeholder analysis methodology involved identifying stakeholder groups through desk studies, consultation with project staff, and review of issues, thematic reports, historical project materials socio-economic and government structures throughout the region. Following this the survey was developed following consultation with earlier stakeholder analyses in the region, surveys conducted by NGOs, reports from the project. The conclusions of these were combined with the findings of the Causal Chain Analysis conducted within the scope of the current TDA. Based on these sources, survey questions were developed.

The survey was conducted in all six Black Sea countries among 42 different stakeholder groups. Surveys were translated into local languages and were administered by national level stakeholder consultants throughout the region. A total of 368 surveys were collected and statistically analyzed for trends among and between groups. Areas of notably high and low priority concern or high levels of variation within groups were detailed and analyzed for the potential causality and significance of these trends. Issues which showed potential for conflict between groups were highlighted.

Key Issues

In order to make the most of the stakeholder analysis it is worth hiring a professional social scientist to help with this process – it is unlikely a project would hire a biologist to write hydrology reports so ensure someone qualified is hired to do the stakeholder analysis for the project. This is a key component that will be very valuable to the project, and the TDA in particular, and when done correctly it is likely to significantly improve the success of the project.

The stakeholder analysis can involve surveys, group meetings, one-on-one meetings and if needed, an armchair analysis to speculate on who the key stakeholders are. It's important that at least two of these are used to make sure the results are accurate by cross checking the findings. In addition, stakeholders will be able to help identify other stakeholders that need to be included.

If surveys are used be sure to follow best practices for survey research for international situations. Surveys should include closed questions that are translated into local languages and then translated back to the original language. This will ensure that the questions are asking what the analyst meant to ask. When analyzing findings it's important to cross reference not only for professional and stakeholder groups but also for location, gender, age and education level.

Remember, when carrying out a survey make sure the people giving the survey are respectful at all times. Often the people interviewed for a particular stakeholder analysis will be the same people the project will want to work with in the future so keep that in mind when meeting them and working with them.

It is critical that the stakeholder analysis not show bias or forces the subjects to lean towards one particular approach or issue. It is important that the people giving the survey understand that the survey responses must be the opinion of the individuals not person giving the survey.  All information from the survey should be completely confidential and no individual person should ever be identified. Stakeholders that are interviewed must be completely confident than what they share will not come back to them professionally in a negative way.

Make sure when surveys are collected and analyzed that the original surveys are disposed of discreetly so that they cannot be found later. While this may seem extreme it is worth doing so to protect stakeholders to help them feel more secure. It will also mean you are getting the most honest answers possible. This is good standard practice in all social sciences.

When the analyses of the stakeholder surveys are conducted, look for the averages of the stakeholder groups, as well as standard deviation. It is important to measure how strong the opinions are among the groups and where there is variation and the strength of that variation.  In the analysis look at the stakeholder groups between countries and within countries to determine what is influencing their opinion. It may be a professional issue but it may also be a more political issue.

For example, there may be common beliefs about the impacts of water quality among ecology ministry officials in different countries. And yet the belief of the severity of the impacts and their source may not be shared between countries and can become contentious. Finding these tensions through an unbiased stakeholder analysis can be very important within the TDA process.

Ultimately, the more people interviewed the better but this will often be determined by budget, time and human resource constraints. Whenever possible one-to one meetings with individuals to discuss the issues is preferable to group meetings for the initial stakeholder analysis to allow for candid responses. Later, as time and budgets permit, stakeholder meetings to review the TDA will also be beneficial as a check on the information collected and to share the information within the TDA with those who are directly involved with it.

Further involvement of stakeholders in the TDA/SAP process is addressed in the Project Managers Manual Stakeholder - Identification & Engagement Section.

Gender mainstreaming

All projects should be sure to have awareness of gender issues. Gender issues are not just women’s issues, but how different gender roles influence different approaches to the use and management of water resources. By not considering gender the project may fail to address important issues which impact one group of society more than others. Additionally inclusion of both male and female gender roles in the project can enhance the success of project activities.

The stakeholder analysis should ensure gender is included as a variable Furthermore, both genders need to be aware of the contribution both make to water management. In cases of traditional cultures in which men and women’s roles vary significantly, respect for those differences is important. There are often advantages to having a gender expert involved in the project to help navigate these sensitivities and to build a stronger project that is inclusive of all stakeholder groups.