Aug 19, 2008

Organizations Sign Agreement to Promote Water Operator Partnerships

Partnerships will help provide clean drinking water throughout Asia

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), International Water Association (IWA) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently signed an agreement at World Water Week to establish an Asia-wide partnership called WaterLinks that will help provide clean drinking water and sanitation throughout the region by coordinating, promoting and aligning efforts to create water operators partnerships (WOPs).

WOPs have proven their value in many parts of the world by successfully
pairing, or “twinning,” water operators in search of solutions with other
operators who have addressed similar challenges. These twinning
arrangements have helped recipient water operators improve their efficiencies
and capacities, resulting in more people gaining access to safe drinking water
and sanitation.

The rationale behind the WOPs is that most of the capacity for improving
water and sanitation services lies with the operators, 90% of which are
managed publicly.

The United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board
on Water and Sanitation proposed the development of WOPs as structured
programs of cooperation among water operators, based on mutual support
and on a not-for-profit basis, in its 2006 Hashimoto Action Plan. Mandated by the United Nations Secretary General to promote and coordinate activities
related to WOPs, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has established a Global WOPs Alliance Centre and identified the need to establish Regional Partnership Networks for WOPs.

“One of the biggest challenges in the water sector is enabling intra-regional
and international cooperation. This is especially true among water service
providers in utilities and municipalities, who by nature are locally focused,”
said Bert Diphoorn, director of UN-HABITAT's Human Settlements Financing Division and the lead for the Global WOPs initiative. “WOPs have
demonstrated their value in helping to build service capacity. WaterLinks is a
vital step forward in unleashing this potential in Asia in a coordinated manner
that involves all major stakeholders.”
The agreement with WaterLinks supports the WOPs initiative through:

  • Brokering and facilitating twinning partnerships between expert water
    operators and Asian utilities and municipal agencies on selected water
    and sanitation operations;
  • Organizing water operator capacity-building activities such as
    workshops, conferences and training events; and
  • Developing and maintaining a knowledge hub web portal
    ( on WOP initiatives and best practices. The portal
    collects and disseminates WOP approaches, training, toolkits and other
    capacity building materials, and WOP-related scheduled events
    organized by the partners