Empowering Communities: EU-WOP Utility Partnership for Equitable Water Access in Sierra Leone

Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), led by UN-Habitat,  promotes peer partnerships among water and sanitation operators to support capacity building for each other, which will help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) locally and globally. Through the EU-WOP programme, GWOPA also works towards providing equitable water services to low-income urban communities by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and expertise among water utilities. This cooperation and exchange of practices will bring significant transformation and help build relationships with national partners, creating a platform for dialogue and cooperation among water and sanitation utilities, the European Commission, United Nations agencies, and other stakeholders.

Last year, three EU-WOP project partners (Ghana Water Company Limited—GWCL, Guma Valley Water Company Limited—GVWC, and Dutch Water Operators—VEI) met with three major stakeholders in Sierra Leone: the European Union delegation to Sierra Leone, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and low-income communities of Kroo Bay and Collier in Freetown. These meetings marked critical milestones in improving access to water and sanitation for low-income communities in Sierra Leone and demonstrated a shared goal between the project partners and the stakeholders.

Partners from GWL, GVWC & VEI with Kroo Bay community members

Consequently, the partnership meetings were productive exchanges on the focus area of the Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) areas and technical issues relevant to other EU programs supported in Sierra Leone. The EU delegation of Sierra Leone showed keen interest in the progress of the EU-WOP and emphasised the importance of maintaining open communication, fostering a collaborative spirit, and aligning project activities with overarching development goals. UNICEF pledged its commitment to providing capacity building and technical assistance for safe and affordable water for all. They recommended a holistic assessment of GVWC’s resource and capital requirements, demand and supply chains, and other critical aspects. Additionally, they suggested organising workshops to gather input into GVWC’s strategic plan for its Community Water Services Department to foster collaboration and collective problem-solving. The Collier Compound Community shared their daily struggles due to water scarcity and expressed a strong desire for change. Residents, including children, must travel far to access water from vendors, resulting in school lateness, dropout from school, delayed meals, and economic burdens among the families. Despite these challenges, the community expressed a strong desire for change and their commitment to forming a Water User Association to empower themselves.

In the echo of collaboration, the stakeholders – the EU delegation, UNICEF and the representatives from low-income communities in Freetown – have demonstrated their commitment to support the EU-WOP programme. It significantly enables the project partners’ unwavering dedication to advancing sustainable development by providing water and empowering communities. As the project continues to evolve, the lessons learned, and partnerships formed during these engagements with key stakeholders serve as catalysts for impactful change, steering Sierra Leone towards a future where water is not a privilege but a fundamental right for all its citizens.


Women voicing their water challenges during community engagement at Kroo Bay (left) and Collier Compound (right)



For more information on this EU-WOP project, please contact  bfaustina@gwcl.com.gh or Lawrence.oaddo@gwcl.com.gh

Visit the EU-WOP programme page