Why are some water operators’ partnerships more fruitful than others? What are the bottlenecks faced by different stakeholders? How can these be alleviated?
Back in 2013, this was the starting point for the BEWOP initiative: a collaboration between UNESCO-IHE and GWOPA, supported by the Dutch Government (DGIS). By looking more closely at the growing WOPs practice in different contexts and with different results, BEWOP is identifying cross-cutting lessons that can be shared and developing guidance tools that make WOPs easier and more effective. Through these efforts, challenges to WOPs participation or practice will be alleviated and the practice will grow.
Phase 1. Identifying needs in WOPs and researching utilities
In its first phase (2013-2015), BEWOP called upon practitioners from water operators, WOPs facilitators and other stakeholders to share their experiences of WOPs. Through consultation and analysis, the needs of the WOPs practitioners were identified. Examples of good practice, catalysts, and success factors in WOPs were also gathered and studied.
As a complimentary stream, research was conducted on current utility practices in order to better understand how the WOPs approach can adapt to these practices in an effective and impactful way.
Stocktake after phase 1
As well as being inputs for the development of tools and guidance, the BEWOP studies of WOPs cases were turned into case studies and factsheets. The range of case studies is extremely diverse from international to national WOPs, short and longer-term partnerships, etc. Through these documented cases, a key bottleneck – awareness – is already being addressed. Translation and wide-spread distribution are ensuring that key stakeholders, namely water operators, are aware of WOPs and are inspired to get involved or find out more.
Through the utility research stream, a number of thematic papers and briefs were also developed. Papers covered key topics for utilities and WOPs practice, including: national WOPs, finance, facilitation, benchmarking, knowledge transfer and knowledge management. A number of these papers were shared with target audiences (WOPs practitioners, facilitators, donors) in order to gather feedback and/or influence their involvement in or understanding of WOPs.
A Performance Improvement Manual was drafted and field tested in 2014 through a series of 9 WOPs in Africa. The manual aims to support operators develop medium term-action plans through a WOP to bring about wider and sustainable change within the utility. Feedback from the 9 WOPs in Africa was gathered and will inform a version 2 of the manual.
Phase 2. Production of tools and guidance material
In its second phase, the focus of BEWOP is now tool and guidance production. Based on the findings of research, study and consultation, staff from GWOPA and UNESCO-IHE are working to develop tools on the following topics.
- Contracting/Agreements processes in WOPs
- Diagnostic tools for selection of improvement tracks in WOPs
- Mentoring for operational staff
- Asset Management
- Performance Framework for WOPs
- Utility Management
- Water Safety Plans
- How to WOP guide and other associated tools
The format of the guidelines may vary from games, manuals, interactive tools, briefs and training courses. Production and/or testing will also continue over 2017 and 2018 for these and a number of additional tools. If you would like to be involved in the development of these tools, please contact us.
Ensuring that BEWOP products are accepted and applied widely in WOPs practice is of primary importance. Throughout the project, from study to tool production, the end user is at the core of the process. By ensuring usability, accessibility and awareness of BEWOP tools among key stakeholders (water operators, facilitators and financing bodies), uptake is being maximized. Some of the ways we are ensuring uptake:
- Taking advantage of GWOPA’s existing WOPs network
- Connecting with new stakeholders through outreach to raise awareness
- Inviting stakeholders to test our products
- Informing tomorrow’s water workers through UNESCO-IHE’s academic network