Indonesia was struck by several natural disasters in 2018, including the earthquake in Lombok, earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Palu as well as the tsunami in the Sunda Strait. Each of which had devastating consequences for the local population due to fatalities, destruction of property and the interruption of basic needs and services. Palu had particularly devastating circumstances due to its isolated geographic location and the high magnitude of the earthquake.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake occurred on the 28th of September and was followed by a tsunami as well as soil liquefaction. The worst-hit areas were Palu, a city of around 300,000 inhabitants, and the Donggala district, home to around 270,000 inhabitants, and suffered around 2,000 deaths. Houses, bridges, roads, communication, and water infrastructure were all affected by the various natural disasters.


The lack of communication was a significant challenge in assessing the situation in Palu, however by October 1st, three days after the natural disaster, a team member from PERPAMSI as well as two members from the Makassar Water Utility went to Palu to survey the situation. Members of the Makassar utility were able to reach Palu faster by car as for the first few days there were no incoming flights. By October 4th a larger team consisting of fourteen technical members from the Makassar Water Utility and one PERPAMSI member were able to reach Palu by road, bringing equipment such as pipes, machinery, and fuel.

As a WOP facilitator, PERPAMSI helps its utility members support one another in building their capacity. The association also focuses on national partnerships. These WOPs focus on working together with the government and national utilities to improve performance and create an equitable and prosperous society based on solidarity and mutual support within the field of water and sanitation.

The standard operating practices (SOPs) for PERPAMSI in the case of natural disasters include 1) Contacting regional members/directors in the affected areas, 2) Analyzing the situation and the emergency needs, 3) Internal and external mobilization of assistance, 4) Mission assistance for the directors of water utilities in the area and lastly, 5) Monitoring and evaluation of their progress and impact.

The damage done to the pipeline was tremendous; 80% of the transmission and distribution pipes were impaired. The most urgent short-term needs included technical assistance, equipment, and materials; however, in the case of Palu, it was difficult to reach the affected areas and challenging to bring the required tools. Furthermore, employees of the water utilities affected were absent from their work due to the personal impact of the disaster.

The first team of staff came from the Makassar utility as they were able to reach the affected areas in a shorter time. However, the second batch of volunteers was comprised of staff from five water utilities, Malang City, Surabaya, Pontianak, Balikpapan, and Samarinda. Each sent two members from their technical team for two weeks. The teams were split into two areas, southwest Palu and northeast Palu to repair the distribution network, to improve the intake pipe and to repair pumps. The arrival of technical assistance helped greatly in boosting the morale and spirits of the Palu water utility employees.

Paluutilities min

The conditions for the peer utility staff who were helping out were difficult. When they first arrived in Palu, they had to replace the original employees who were taking care of their families. Many staff slept on makeshift beds on the floor of the utility’s offices. Technical personnel also perceived progress as relatively slow due to the lack of tools and equipment which had to be imported. Each evening, the teams would recap what they had achieved and the challenges they had faced.

"Yes, the PDAM work area is underground. We have to dig using unconventional crowbar and hoes, because of limited equipment, "explained Marsudi, (staff of Organization Empowerment Bureau of PERPAMSI).

During the second week of their work, the community started to fight over access to water. Some pipes were damaged by a machete and team members needed to ask for further security to ensure their safety while executing repairs. Ultimately, three members of the National Armed Forces joined the team.

Future Plans

A new financial plan will be put in place at the Donggala PDMA to allow for financial resources to be used for disaster mitigation. Furthermore, there was a visit with the Japanese Ministry of Health for a long-term reconstruction proposal that would support infrastructure in a disaster-prone area.

Therefore, the situation in Palu reinforced the importance of mobilizing materials and equipment as well as technical assistance through members from other water utilities.

As Dwike Riantara, Head of Organizational Empowerment Bureau, at PERPAMSI says "Helping one another is a tradition of Indonesian water utilities. Solidarity spirit does exist. Like in a big family, you will always be there when a family member needs you."

PERPAMSI continues to play an integral role in the improvement of utilities as well as overseeing and connecting members, working towards mutual support and mobilizing these forms of collaboration.



In line with the new strategy developed by GWOPA for 2019-2023, GWOPA has signed Memoranda of Understanding with two major partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, WOP-LAC and Cari-WOP.

The objective of those agreements is to formalize the relationship between the organizations, for a better collaboration for the enhancement and betterment of WOPs initiatives. As GWOPA is moving away gradually from direct WOPs implementation, the regional partners such as the regional WOPs platforms will play a bigger role in direct WOPs coordination and facilitation, while GWOPA will focus more on normative aspects of WOPs, knowledge management, guidance and tools, finance linking and global advocacy. In this new setup, access to data and first-hand information from WOPs practitioners is crucial, as well as a tighter collaboration with the platforms. Formalizing the relationship between GWOPA and the platforms is also part of a review of the Alliance governance, which will be done during the second semester of this year.

The WOP-LAC programme is the Regional Platform of the Global Alliance (GWOPA) in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program is currently hosted by AySA in Buenos Aires, Argentina and benefits from a continued financial support from Inter-American Development Bank for the implementation of intra-regional WOPs. Seven WOPs involving eleven countries were implemented in 2018-2019 and more than 30 are in the pipeline for future implementation.

Cari-WOP is the WOP platform for the Caribbean and it is active in several WOPs in Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica and Saint Lucia serving as a regional platform to facilitate the sharing and exchange of information and experience and peer-to-peer support between water and sanitation utilities and operators of the Caribbean so as to help them play their full role in delivering and extending quality basic services for all.

GWOPA will continue formalizing its relationship with other major regional partners in the course of the year.


Around 12 million Guatemalans, equal to 75% of the country´s population, have access to drinking water thanks to the local water committees. One of these local committees is the Asociación de Desarrollo Comunitario Rural (ADECOR) that brings together nine water and sanitation utilities in the Municipality of San Martin Jiloteqeque on a non-profit basis.

Since its foundation, ADECOR aims to improve water and sanitation infrastructure for the indigenous people of the area - natives of the Mayan ethnic group Kaqchikel which is one of the poorest rural areas of Guatemala, affected by war and natural disasters. This branch of the descendants of a Mayan tribe faces many difficulties related to drinking and sanitation services.

ADECOR, which serves an estimated amount of 6,000-10,000 inhabitants of the Department of Chimaltenango, is trying to change this situation. As a member of GWOPA, they established close contact with Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Servicios Sanitarios de Chile (FESAN) - a non-profit cooperative federation, which helps water operators in Chile and other Latin American countries to strengthen their capacities. The Chilean experience in managing drinking water services in rural areas has become a successful management model on the basis of a Water Operator Partnership (WOP) between ADECOR and FESAN.

This WOP was developed under the umbrella of WOP-LAC, regional platform of GWOPA in Latin America and the Caribbean, and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank. The contribution to the compliance of SDG6 laid the foundation for its main goals. More concretely, this partnership aimed to expand inclusive and sustainable access to safe drinking water for people living in rural areas in Guatemala, to support women in conditions of extreme poverty, and to increase female participation in the sphere of water.

To achieve this, both water professionals and local leaders were invited to participate in the WOP. During the first stage they identified common concerns, such as limited access to water, bad functionality of water supply and sanitation systems, as well as water related environmental problems (felling of trees, erosion and fires), and agreed that regional water systems should be improved.

In the framework of the second WOP stage, ADECOR representatives together with community leaders participated in a training where specialists from FESAN shared their rich experience about technical and administrative capacity building, tariff calculation, and other core issues serving to strengthen community water management with peers from Guatemala. As a result, the delegation of the Municipality of San Martin Jiloteqeque decided to establish independent self-sustainable quality drinking water service, relevant to the culture and identity of the Kaqchikel ethnic group. This WOP would enable indigenous populations to get access both to water and sanitation services, improving its health and well-being.

The final phase of the WOP in San Martin Jilotepeque focused on enabling local professionals and on leadership promotion which led to female empowerment. Overall, 50 women and men from Mayas indigenous communities learned the ways of building a sustainable management model for rural drinking water systems, which allowed them to expand career opportunities.

As a result of this WOP, a local community implemented its structure as a social enterprise with Statutes and Regulations, and all rural water operators of the district of San Martín Jilotepeque got acquainted with a sustainable water management model. In the near future about 5,000 people more of Kaqchikel ethnic group will receive this service as well.

This WOP model proved itself effective and helped the indigenous population of Guatemala to improve the quality of life and increase the level of social integration with a very cost-effective investment of only approximately $10 per person.


Monday, 10 June 2019 18:02

Hosting Call for the GWOPA Secretariat

Written by

Nairobi, Kenya – 10th June 2019. Water and Sanitation Utilities have a critical role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Water and sanitation operators help deliver on basic Human Rights in cities providing services that are fundamental to inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities where no one is left behind to achieve the SDGs as well as the New Urban Agenda. Many of the thousands of local water and sanitation operators worldwide need help.

Despite different contexts, water utilities around the world have much in common, and therefore much to share, with one another. Through Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs), peer utilities help one another on a not-for-profit basis, to learn, develop and improve their performance. WOPs help strengthen water and sanitation operators ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6), contributing to SDG 6 targets on inclusive access to services, water quality, water use efficiency, integrated management and conservation, capacity development and community engagement.

The Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) is the global hub for WOPs: advocating, building knowledge and convening diverse water and urban stakeholders – governments, financial partners, development organizations, private utilities, civil society and labour unions - together to help utilities help each other. The GWOPA Secretariat is managed by UN-Habitat and guided by a multi-stakeholder International Steering Committee, chaired by UN-Habitat’s Executive Director.

In support of the New Urban Agenda, GWOPA helps participating countries to commit “to equipping public water and sanitation utilities with the capacity to implement sustainable water management systems” (paragraph 120) and recognize the need for sustainable and inclusive water and sanitation services.

In the 10 years since it was founded, GWOPA has catalyzed a flourishing global Water Operators’ Partnerships practice, with over 300 WOPs on record around the world enhancing capacity for improved services, and a network of regional and national platforms and programmes implementing them. The WOPs practice is growing steadily with new utility associations, development banks and governments around the world adopting the practice at scale.

Hosting Call for the GWOPA Secretariat

Today, as a growing number of cities and towns cities face severe water stress, strong utilities are more important than ever. Recognizing the continued importance of the Water Operators Partnerships practice, UN-Habitat has opened a hosting call for the global Secretariat of GWOPA, to continue refining and scaling up the approach to help more local water and sanitation service providers globally provide sustainable services to all. This programme, currently based in Barcelona, Spain, since 2013 thanks to the support of the Government of Spain, embraces the strategic objective of the agency “to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace, to improve living conditions for all.”

The hosting call is open to any UN Member State or public entity endorsed by its national government. A joint proposal by more than one country may also be considered.

For further information, please see the hosting call.

Last week, Dr. Liu Gang, representative of the Centre of Excellence for Water and Environment (CEWE) visited Barcelona to hold several meetings with GWOPA Secretariat to discuss bilateral collaboration between both institutions to establish permanent collaboration focusing on training, research and international cooperation project in the field of water and sanitation. GWOPA and CEWE found common interest in developing training programs for water and sanitation utilities and increasing the participation of utilities in the existing CEWE training which is fully funded by the center as one their many contribution to the cooperation between China and the global South.


CEWE’s objective is to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of water sector professionals from developing countries through the training, education and joint research programs to assist developing world in human resource capacity building in the field of water and environment, as well as providing practical solution for water and other environmental problems (


CAS-TWAS Centre of Excellence for Water and Environment (CAS-TWAS CEWE) is established in the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES), Chinese Academy Sciences (CAS) in Beijing, China and it could become an important partner in Asia for GWOPA. It follows the direction of CAS and the World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries (TWAS).

Nairobi, 30 May 2019. Water Operators’ Partnerships at the core of the discussion to accelerate the uptake of water and sanitation innovations for the SDGs.

During the first session of the UN-Habitat Assembly, Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) has convened a session to discuss the innovations being developed and transferred through Water Operators’ Partnerships to help utilities around the world confront sustainability challenges.

The session featured the First Secretary Food Security & Water of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sanne Willems, Head of Corporate Affairs of the Nairobi Water & Sewage Company, Mbaruky Vyakweli, Deputy Director General for International Technical Organizations of the Government of Spain, Javier Gutierrez and the Regional Minister of Sustainablity Department of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Damia Calvet. The session was also introduced by Andre Dzikus, Urban Basic Services Branch Coordinator of UN-Habitat and moderated by Julie Perkins, Officer in Charge of the GWOPA Secretariat.

The discussion focused on the Water Operators’ partnerships (WOPs) experience and provided lessons learned from the Netherlands, Spain and Kenya

After ten years of its establishment, more than 300 Water Operators’ partnerships (WOPs) have be set supporting utility performance improvement. WOPs, not-for-profit partnerships between two or more water and/or sanitation operators carried out in the objective of strengthening their capacity to sustainably provide quality services to all.

Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance was set up in 2009 to support Millennium Development Goals through a multi-stakeholder Alliance with the objective of building capacity for utility operators at the long term through sustainable partnerships.

From 27th to 31st May, UN-Habitat will hold the first session of the UN-Habitat Assembly at the headquarters of UN-Habitat in Nairobi.

Spanish international development actors at local, regional and national levels convened in Barcelona to collaborate in pursuit of sustainable water for all

 GWOPA’s Annual International Steering Committee Meeting

Expert Group Meeting (EGM) marks the first step towards a regional Utility Capacity Building Action Plan

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