Latin America - RALCEA - Network of knowledge centres in the water sector

Latin America - RALCEA - Network of knowledge centres in the water sector

RALCEA is a programme funded by the European Union to create a Latin American Network of Centres of Excellence in Water to facilitate direct collaboration and information exchange between scientific institutions in Latin America.




The RALCEA project was adopted by the European Commission in December 2009, and started its activities in mid-2010 in 18 Latin American countries. It aims at supporting the establishment of a network of knowledge centres in the water sector. Together with the EUROCLIMA Programme (Water Component), RALCEA contributes to strengthening regional collaboration and promoting capacity building and scientific-technical cooperation between water sector research institutions, while facilitating decision-making and action by key actors at national and regional levels. Both EUROCLIMA and RALCEA are in line with the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) launched at the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002.

RALCEA has set-up a common strategic plan in capacity building on governance and technical issues addressing the scientific community, the RALCEA knowledge centres and policy-makers, thereby reinforcing their mutual understanding.

The EU contribution to the programme amounts to €2.25 million. The European Commission's Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (in particular its Institute of Environment and Sustainability) is responsible for the implementation of the programme (2010-2015).


RALCEA’s activities and outcomes fall into three thematic areas:

  • stakeholder mapping and capacity building: aiming to design and implement a regional capacity building strategy for water sector institutions, and to identify the specific needs and interests of the various stakeholders in the region
  • regional water balance: aiming to study the variability of the Regional Water Balance in the context of climate change. Programme actions included research, regional projects and capacity building on methodologies.
  • water quality and sanitation, focused on improving knowledge in the areas of water quality and sanitation in the region, particularly with regard to treatment and reuse, salinisation, anthropic contamination, urban drainage systems, hydrological modelling, and monitoring and sampling methods.



The launch of RALCEA initiated a process of continuous improvement in capacity building and training, based on solid fundamentals and a good number of tools, manuals and methodologies developed by the programme.

Links between the political and scientific sectors are strengthened with the help of case studies reflecting best practices in capacity building. Sustainable water management is promoted based on shared knowledge and experiences, by creating a common space where efforts can be combined and actions channelled through an innovative joint identification process of actual needs.

In short, RALCEA brings together groups of experts and their knowledge for joint and mutual capacity building, and will provide solid and firm foundations on which to build integrated water resources management at a regional level. The integrated management process is driven step by step to achieve effective implementation and consolidation at a regional level. The RALCEA programme also demonstrates that focusing on identifying high level technical and management institutions and enabling them to work together on actual issues attracts greater commitment and support from governments themselves,  facilitates ownership and increases opportunities for replication.


Key documents