International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

What should a TDA look like?

All TDAs are different. In order to understand what a TDA should look like, it is advisable to download a few examples that are relevant to your water system and region and read them. A typical high level content list for a TDA and examples of good practice are shown here. Irrespective of the layout, the TDA document should follow some general principles.

Executive Summary

There should be a relatively concise and jargon-free Executive Summary. A good executive summary will help promote the TDA. Remember, the TDA will be given to politicians, policy makers (national and international), donors and managers. It can almost be guaranteed they will not read the entire document.

The Main Text

The main text should be coherent and concise. An overly long document will be difficult to navigate and interpret. Worse still, it will not be read. Don’t present too much text or equally too many figures and tables. Supporting data (either figures or tables) can be presented in separate Annexes.


Generally, TDAs are written in the predominant UN language for the region. If the TDA is not written in English, a translation will be needed (for the GEF, UN implementing agencies, and many of the international donors). It may be useful to hire a native English expert to fully edit the translated document, particularly one who has experience of the technical language is used.


It is important to include maps (either sketch, cartographic or GIS -derived) illustrating the geographic scale and scope of the priority transboundary problems, impacted areas and the location of immediate causes (such as hot spots, river diversions, urban developments, etc.).

Technical Reports

Complex technical reports should be published separately or as annexes.

Contents List

Provide a Content List and a Glossary of all terms employed. Make sure the pages are numbered and the content list numbering corresponds with the page numbering – this is a common and annoying mistake. An example of a typical content list is shown here.


Include a full list of contributing specialists, and annexes containing lists of identified stakeholders.

Preliminary recommendations for SAP

Although the TDA should be objective and should not try to develop solutions for the analysed transboundary problems (this is the purpose of the SAP), it is acceptable to present a list of preliminary recommendations for the SAP. Be aware though that this is stepping into a more political arena and some for of negotiation might be required.

TDA for Decision Makers

A shortened version of the full TDA can also be produced. Often termed a TDA for decision makers, it provides a long executive summary, together with visuals and graphics summarising the key issues facing the water system, the stakeholders and the participating countries.

Approximate size

The size of the TDA will vary from project to project and from water type to water type. Typically it should be between 80 and 150 pages (plus annexes) although there are examples with over 300 pages, although this should not be encouraged.