Tapping Board Member Support to Drive Success of the EU-WOP Programme: The Story from Budapest Waterworks

Budapest Waterworks, the drinking water utility for the Hungarian capital, is mentoring a Water Operators’ Partnership (WOP) between Budapest Waterworks and Pakistan’s Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) Lahore, and Water and Sanitation Services Company (WSSC) Mardan funded by the EU-WOP Programme and managed by GWOPA/UN-Habitat. Together with the partners in Lahore, Pakistan’s second biggest city, and Mardan, one of its fastest-growing, the executive directors of all three utilities have pledged their commitment to the partnership’s success.

Budapest Waterworks often involves its chief executive in international projects and obtains feedback on their progress. This involvement has increased visibility and encouraged project members to share information, resulting in positive outcomes for the employees of Budapest Waterworks. As part of the international activities, the EU-WOP project has received support from the executive level that allows employees to explore their creativity and embrace challenges, which helps them develop new skills and think outside the box when facing hardship in water services.

“We find it’s good for our colleagues working for a utility company to have an opportunity for international tasks, and to see other operators and to see different conditions in the world.  Our colleagues learn a lot and expand their experience through working with people from other parts of the globe.”
Rita Studniczki
International Coordinator at Budapest Waterworks

The executive directors have played a crucial role in the WOP project since its inception. Their involvement has been instrumental in developing and implementing effective project plans. By participating in the project, they have not only helped promote the WOP approach within the organization but also outside of it. Importantly, they bring their expertise to the table during the bi-annual meetings.

Picture: The Pakistani mentees’ visit the Budapest Waterworks in Hungary ©Budapest Waterworks


“The executive directors feel they are part of the project and the partnership. They regularly give us feedback to improve the implementation.”
Rita Studniczki
International Coordinator at Budapest Waterworks

The WOP project employs a blend of top-down and bottom-up approaches. While executive board meetings are important, it is equally essential for mentors and mentees at the implementation level to exchange regularly – be in through online of on-site meetings. The staff in each utility reports their WOP progress to their respective executive directors, giving them realistic information on what is happening through this partnership, and this helps further build top-level support for the WOP.

Even though organising meetings between chief executive officers is challenging due to their busy schedules, engaging them in the WOP not only ensures their governance and leadership during project implementation but also allows them to promote the WOP. This, in turn, provides opportunities for employees to learn and grow in their skills and knowledge by gaining exposure to challenges, new ideas, and innovations with other utilities, ultimately developing better capacity between water operations and sanitation services.

If you have any best practices to share from your WOP, please email unhabitat-gwopa@un.org.