GWOPA is helping establish WOPs platforms around the world to foster benchmarking, information exchange, joint learning and twinning between operators at country or regional level. GWOPA works with bodies anchored in the region – Professional Associations, financial institutions and NGOs - to make WOPs a prominent component of their on-going efforts to strengthen utility capacity. The focus of these platforms is intra-regional exchange. WOPs between nearby utilities often have the advantage of being less costly, easier to follow-up and often more effective because of linguistic, geographical or historical commonalities which facilitate technical transfer.
In the Asia-Pacific region GWOPA participated in the second annual WaterLinks Regional Forum, 2010 on 4-5 May 2010 in Manila, Philippines. Over 130 regional participants came together to share their WOPs experiences. GWOPA delivered a session on planned activities and future directions and presented our 2010 work plan. There were also useful discussions with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the other two regional partners in WaterLinks – USAID Eco-Asia and IWA. GWOPA is also discussing with WSP-EAP how to cooperate in the South East Asian countries where WSP is active.
In South Asia GWOPA has responded to an expressed demand for establishing and supporting sub-regional and national WOP platforms and has initiated discussion with several potential partners. Currently we are in the process of discussing cooperation arrangements with WSP-South Asia and GTZ-India. At the country level GWOPA also met with WSP-Pakistan to discuss how we could work together in cooperation with UN-HABITAT Pakistan office to create a national WOP platform there.
During the Singapore International Water Week 2010 GWOPA participated in meetings on the establishment of the regional Asia-Pacific Water Safety Plans Network proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Stakeholders believe a regional network is needed to scale up the promotion and implementation of Water Safety Plans (WSPs) to guarantee safe drinking water in the Asia-Pacific region. GWOPA is one of the partners working to finalise the concept for the network together with a 5-year strategic plan. In Japan GWOPA held discussions about possible collaboration with major Japanese water stakeholders; these will form a Japanese water utility mentor task force to work across the region. Several potential twinnings involving Japanese mentor utilities were identified and will be implemented with GWOPA support.
In the Pacific Islands, GWOPA, in cooperation with the Pacific Water and Waste Association (PWWA), organized a Utility Matchmaking Workshop during July 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand. We gathered operators from a dozen islands and identified a number of opportunities for twinning. We observed a strong demand for increased regional exchange and cooperation. In response to such demand a sub-regional WOPs platform in the Pacific will be launched in September 2010 at the Pacific Water Conference on September 13-15 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
GWOPA is supporting the position of the WOP-Africa programme manager based in the African Water Association (AfWA) offices in Cote d'Ivoire, funding a number of initial short WOPs and contributing to a second continent-wide benchmarking exercise in collaboration with WSP-Africa and the World Bank International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities (IB-Net). The benchmarking data will provide an update of the data already available on the Geo-referenced Utility Benchmarking System (GRUBS) and will feed an operational database.
In December 2009, the African Water Facility approved a grant of 490,000 Euros to support the implementation of the WOP-Africa work programme, which was developed with support from GWOPA. WOP-Africa will undertake a first set of ten peer-to-peer twinning partnerships to improve critical operation and maintenance parameters already identified in the "Water Operators Partnerships: Africa Utility Performance Assessment, Final Report." Each partnership will implement a specific Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) in one or more of the areas of customer service, financial and technical performance. As further support, GWOPA will directly facilitate and fund several short-term WOPs in Africa during 2010, for which a call for proposals was circulated in June 2010. GWOPA is also supporting several individual utilities in the continent, in partnership with WOP-Africa and other partners, in writing proposals to apply for funds from the ACP-EU Water Facility for long-term WOPs.
GWOPA is actively supporting the Water Operators’ Partnerships Platform in Latin America and the Caribbean (WOP-LAC). Nine twinning partnership agreements between LAC operators were signed in 2009. These covered a range of areas including energy efficiency, water loss reduction, e-procurement, asset management, commercial management, operation and maintenance, customer-oriented service, and water demand management. Moreover, GWOPA together with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have initiated arrangements to fund about 15 WOPs in 2010. GWOPA also helped to identify over 50 potential needs-based utility twinnings through two match-making workshops, one in Medellin, Colombia, for Latin American utilities, and another one in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, for Caribbean utilities. The two workshops were co-organized by GWOPA, IDB, and IWA.
GWOPA, together with IDB, supported the launching of the Colombian WOPs national platform (WOP-Colombia) in July 2010, led by ANDESCO (Colombian Association of Public Services) and ACODAL (Colombian Association of Sanitary Engineering). GWOPA also helped to launch two other national WOP platforms in the LAC region. In Mexico, ANEAS (the National Association of Water and Sanitation Utilities of Mexico) took the initiative to run the WOP-Mexico platform; and AESBE (Associação das Empresas de Saneamento Básico Estaduais) was selected as a platform host for WOPs activities in Brazil.
Under WOP-LAC at the sub-regional level, GWOPA supported the establishment of the Cari-WOP platform to help provide support to the small utilities of the island and coastal states of the Caribbean. Led jointly by the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and the Caribbean Basin Water Management Programme (CBWMP), Cari-WOP has initiated several twinnings and a regional benchmarking exercise. GWOPA is also helping Cari-WOP to guide eligible Caribbean countries to tap into the European Union’s Water Facility. CWWA and CBWMP are also engaged on writing a proposal to the EUWF for the consolidation and future scale-up of Cari-WOP with the help of a GWOPA funded international consultant.
As a result of this WOP impetus in the LAC region, GWOPA has moved one of its staff members, Mr. Tomas Lopez de Bufala, from Nairobi to Rio de Janeiro to be based in the Regional Office of UN-HABITAT for the LAC region.
GWOPA initiated the process of opening its Representative Office for the Arab Countries (ROAC), which will be hosted by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), in Abu Dhabi later this year. GWOPA also initiated arrangements for a regional benchmarking activity and a matchmaking workshop in partnership with the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA). Outcomes of these activities will be used to facilitate WOP partnerships in the region. GWOPA will also organize a training workshop on Water Safety Plans (WSPs) in Beirut, Lebanon, with UN-ESCWA, BGR, ACWUA, and other partners in early 2011.