The 3rd Hackathon Sustainable Water Management in Agriculture
May 14, 2022, 12:56 p.m.

 The 3rd Hackathon is part of the ‘Make Horticulture Knowledge Work’ project. The theme is ‘Sustainable Water Management in Agriculture.’

How should we plan our water use of today and tomorrow so that continued reliable water use in the future is still possible?

In the 3rd Hackathon we are taking on a very new approach. You are going to be using your knowledge to solve real-world situations.

Wicked Problem

Wicked problems are hard to solve. In fact, for most wicked problems, meeting everyone’s needs and wants is probably impossible. This is because different groups want different things and solutions have different effects on the groups involved. There are many examples of wicked problems. Large-scale problems such as health care, world hunger and sustainability are wicked problems. In the resources, we provide you with a few. When providing solutions for wicked problems you need to move from thinking in terms of “correct” or “incorrect” solutions to “better” or “worse” solutions. Your solution will not solve the entire problem for everyone involved but hopefully it will improve the situation as much as possible.

Working as a Consultant

Today, we want you to think and act as a consultant for a client. You will practice working in a professional setting. We will get you in contact with different stakeholders involved in water management. You will get to choose who you will take on as your client and it will be your role to serve their needs as well as you can. Communication is key! You will have to make sure you understand what they are looking for and you will have the chance to exchange ideas with them to make sure you are on track.


Rania Al-Zou’bi- Embassy of the Netherlands in Jordan, Senior Policy Advisor

Description of role and case. Still need to do this in discussion with the stakeholder.

Roula Bachour- Irriwatch, Agronomist and Irrigation Specialist

Description of role and case. Still need to do this in discussion with the stakeholder.

Dr. Dilshad A. Haleem- University of Duhok, College of Spatial Planning

Description of role and case. Still need to do this in discussion with the stakeholder.


Hackathon Assignment

Now that we have introduced what you will do during the day, please read through the assignment breakdown below. To guide you through the process of developing a 10-year plan for your client, you are provided with assignments that you will complete throughout the day.



Block 1: Setting the Agenda                                                     Time: 10.35 – 11.30 (55 minutes)

Assignment 1. Defining the situation

Assignment 2. Determining priorities and goals

Assignment 3. Brainstorming options


Block 2: Reflecting on Feedback                                                            Time: 12.00-12.30 (30 minutes)


Block 3: Developing a plan                                                       Time: 13.15 -15.15 (2 hours)

Assignment 4. Refining the proposal

Assignment 5. Checking in with the Stakeholder

Assignment 6. Mapping the potential outcomes


Block 4: Finalizing your delivery                                              Time: 16:15 – 17:00 (45 minutes)


Block 1: Setting the Agenda

Total time: 55 minutes

 In this block, you will work towards better understanding your chosen case study.

At the start of the day, three stakeholders will present a local water related issue they face. As they are all active in different countries, each team ranks the case study they are most interested to work on. The hackathon organisation will then assign each team with one of the three case studies. During the working blocks, you have the chance to brainstorm for solutions for their issue (keeping in mind different (local) stakeholders, and different angles!) The next three assignments will help you (1) define the problem that your team will address, (2) determine what is manageable and impactful within a 10-year period, and (3) begin to brainstorm options for solving the problem.

Assignment 1. Defining the situation

Suggested time: 25 minutes


You have heard from three stakeholders working in three different locations, Iraq, Jordan and the Netherlands, in three different sectors, research, government and private business. Now it is up to you to determine where your team will jump in and act as consultants. Once you’ve done that you need to understand what is going on.

  1. Discuss what problem are you interested in working on. Why?
  2. Once you have chosen your stakeholder: summarize the situation that they presented you with.
  3. Map who is involved with the problem: define the different stakeholders and actors involved, what their roles and needs are.
    1. Keep technical, social, environmental, and economic factors that play a role in mind.
  4. Narrow the problem down to what can and cannot be changed or acted on.
    1. For example: we have no influence over how much rain falls, but we have a lot of influence about what is done with rain when it does fall.

Assignment 2. Determining priorities and goals

Suggested time: 15 minutes

Now that you understand the problem better, who is involved and what could be possible, we need to determine what is feasible. The problem certainly cannot be solved overnight; it probably can’t be solved completely in 10 years either. Here we want to set a goal for what we do want to and can accomplish. Think optimistically but set goals that are reachable.

  1. This problem is a ‘Wicked problem’. Briefly discuss why.
  2. No solution will make everyone happy all the time. What do you think is the most important to solve? Think about where you can make the most meaningful difference.
  3. How far can we get to solving their problem in 10 years?

Assignment 3. Brainstorming options

Suggested time: 20 minutes

Now that you have narrowed down the scope of the problem your team wants to provide a plan for, you can begin to think about what is possible. Keep in mind that you will eventually be presenting a 10-year plan. This plan will need to include realistic steps and you’ll need to be able to predict the outcomes that the plan will have on all the stakeholders and actors involved. After this assignment you will also have the chance to ask questions to your stakeholder.

  1. Write down all the ideas you have that could solve the problem.
    1. These can be, economic, political, or technical
  2. Group ideas together that might fit within a cohesive plan.
  3. Prepare a summary of your ideas that you can briefly discuss with your stakeholder.
  4. Formulate questions for your stakeholder. These can be specifically about the ideas you have brainstormed or questions clarifying their situation.


Block 2: Reflecting on Feedback

Total time: 30 minutes

This block is a short opportunity to take stock of what you’ve heard in discussion with other teams and your stakeholder that you are consulting. Make use of this time to summarize the feedback and make a workplan for later. Consider assigning roles to team members; these can be research areas or a division of tasks, for example.

Use this time to identify which idea you think will make the best proposal for a 10-year plan. If you can, try to get a head start on drafting the steps needed within the plan.

Block 3: Developing a plan

Total time: 2 hours

 Now it is time to really set a solid plan. This will be a 10-year strategic plan that your stakeholder can implement. To be effective, you should clearly define steps that the stakeholder will take. These steps will likely follow a timeline and will involve different groups of people. The more consideration that you put into your plan, the more likely that you will be able to convince your stakeholder to take on your approach. Good luck!

Assignment 4. Refining the proposal

Suggested time: 1 hour

You collected feedback from the stakeholder and insights from other teams. Use these pieces of information to guide discussion with your team. Pick the ideas for a plan that most interest you, best align with the needs of your stakeholder, and most realistically provide a solution for the problem at hand.

  1. Narrow down the ideas that you originally brainstormed and define the approach that your team will take. This can be a technical, economic, or political plan. Or it can incorporate different elements, as long as it is logical.
  2. Define steps that the stakeholder will take to implement your idea. Be specific!
  3. You can make phone calls, use the internet to search existing projects and solutions in other areas. Try and be as creative and assertive as possible in finding input for your proposal!

Assignment 5. Checking in with the Stakeholder

Suggested time: 15 minutes

Keeping an open line of communication with the stakeholder you are consulting is important. This is how you can make sure that you are working towards a plan that meets your clients’ needs and wants. Here you have another opportunity to communicate with your client. You can send them an email with a few (2-3) questions. Keep in mind that the e-mail should be presented professionally and be clear and to-the-point.

Assignment 6. Mapping the potential outcomes

Suggested time: 45 minutes

Plans need to be assessed before, during and after implementation. This helps in determining what went well and what can go better in future attempts. Unfortunately, the Hackathon won’t give you enough time to realize the implementation of your plan, so you won’t be able to assess your proposal in action. But you can still make predictions about how your plan will unravel. The stakeholder will be interested in hearing this.

  1. Think back to the stakeholders and actors you listed earlier. How will your plan affect each group?
  2. The plan will affect different groups different. Justify the compromises that you need to make in your plan.

Block 4: Finalizing your delivery

Total time: 45 minutes

Now you need to present your 10-year strategic plan to your stakeholder. Implementing your plan will cost them time and energy and they want to feel convinced to take on your plan. Consider the information that is relevant to the presentation, this will include an overview of the steps, the justification for the approach and predicted outcomes. You will have 7 minutes to present. You will also be asked questions from the jury (the three stakeholders). Anticipate the questions that they might ask and prepare for them.