- Category: Overview
What are WOPs?
Water Operators’ Partnerships – WOPs - are peer-support exchanges between two or more water or sanitation operators, carried out on a not-for-profit basis in the objective of strengthening their capacity. WOPs are being promoted as an effective method of bolstering the ability of public watsan service providers to play their full role in delivering quality basic services to all.
WOPs vary greatly in their objectives, approach and outcomes. Some WOPs are funded entirely by their participating utilities, others require significant support from external partners. What brings all WOPs together is that they are carried out by and for utilities according to a number of guiding principles.
Water Operators Partnerships - Building WOPs for Sustainable Development in Water and Sanitation provides an introduction to WOPs and some examples of practice.
WOPs - A Protected brand
Not-for-profit peer support is not new. WOPs-like initiatives have been carried out for decades under a panopoly of names, including Public Private Partnerships, Public-Public Partnerships, twinning, decentralized cooperation and others. Water Operators Partnerships - WOPs - was the name given to the practice by the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation when it called, in its 2006 Hashimoto Action Plan, for a global scale-up of the approach.
However WOPs is more than just another name for an old practice; it also carries a useful distinction. WOPs, by definition, must be not-for-profit. While some partnerships are defined on the nature of the partnering entities (PPP or PUP), WOPs are distinguished by the nature of the relationship between the parties. Partners in a WOP abide by a code-of-conduct that lays out the ground rules for their interaction. In this way, WOPs provide a meaningful label and safe framework in which an effective peer-support relationship can develop.
The WOPs Charter, which includes both the Guiding Principles for GWOPA, and Code-of-Conduct for partnerships, was developed collaboratively and adopted through consensus by GWOPA's International Steering Committee.
- Category: Overview
GWOPA is an alliance of partners working towards the common goal of making Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) happen more often and with greater impact.
The GWOPA Secretariat, hosted by UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, Kenya, is driven by an international Steering Committee and supported by a global network of partners and members. GWOPA counts amongst its supporters utility associations on all continents representing thousands of water utilities, regional development banks, international financial institutions, labour unions, civil society organizations, development partners, and learning institutes.
Click the image to download GWOPA new brochure.
GWOPA’s direct goal is to promote and enable impactful WOPs. It does this by creating awareness about WOPs, producing and sharing knowledge and tools, and rallying the funds and political backing to enable effective WOPs practice.
GWOPA is ultimately contributing to the Millennium Develop Goals of halving the proportion of the world’s population that remains unserved by adequate water and sanitation services. WOPs make the greatest contribution through capacity enhancement, while helping to catalyze the change required to increase access to the poor.
From the beginning, GWOPA has worked to grow its partner network and gain from the diverse strengths of partners in the implementation of all activities. Key partners include international agencies, regional development banks and funding agencies, utility associations, and a wide range of stakeholders from the water supply and sanitation sector worldwide.
GWOPA Foundation Meeting in Nairobi, Janary 2009
The Right Fit
The beauty of Water Operators’ Partnerships is that each partnership is tailor-made to meet the specific needs of its partners. The issues to tackle, the level of commitment, and the duration of exchange are up to the partners to decide. In this way, Water Operators’ Partnerships are truly demand-driven.
Value for Money
Capacity Building is one of the most cost effective alternatives for development investments. Demanddriven partnerships are among the most effective ways of building capacity. Water Operators’ Partnerships are effective and no-nonsense ways of building know - how where it is needed.
For utilities caught in a trap of low revenues, disinvestment and infrastructural decline, reversing the cycle can seem overwhelming. Witnessing, first hand, surmounted challenges can provide the catalyst for real change. Not only spreading knowledge, Water Operators’ Partnerships help spread the inspiration to do things differently. As partners in a process of change, utilities can support one another to persist through the obstacles they face along the way.
Public and Pro-Poor
With the vast majority of the world’s water operators in public hands nowadays, efforts to extend access must focus on enhancing the capacity of public utilities. While decades of public-private partnerships have brought about some performance improvements, they have had little impact in increasing service coverage to the poor. The emergence of a new wave of efficient public operators that have also managed to extend services, has brought about a renewed focus on the public sector as the driver of change. Distinguishing itself from past exchange mechanisms, Water Operators’ Partnerships focus clearly on support between operators on a not-for-profit basis, rooted in a culture of solidarity where universal access to water and sanitation is the ultimate goal.
Water Operators’ Partnerships aim to develop the resident human resource capacity within a utility. While investors and experts may come and go, building, rather than delegating, capacity is seen as essential for sustainable and responsive utilities. In this light, Water Operators’ Partnerships also highlight the key role that workers, as well as managers, play in the delivery of safe and accessible water and sanitation services.
Water Operators’ Partnerships as a Catalyst for Reform
While utilities may be the single most important actors in the effort to improve services to the Poor, they cannot do it alone. Improving performance and service to the Poor also requires political commitment, financial support, and a sound institutional framework. Water Operators’ Partnerships may not be a panacea, but the change they bring about can help to catalyse further improvements and build the momentum for upstream reforms.