With over 7 600 employees within the water division and 624 operational sites, ONEE provides drinking water to over 13 million people and sanitation services to over 3 million. The Moroccan operator faces a number of challenges, both qualitative and quantitative: over extraction and pollution of water sources, intrusion of saltwater and irregular rain have all contributed to a significant deterioration of raw water resources over the previous 30 years. Today, ONEE mandate covers the provision drinking water and distribution and treatment of wastewater in coordination with operators in major cities and in rural areas.
In 2001, ONEE extended its area of work to include wastewater treatment. The public operator did not have experience in this domain and was looking for technical capacity support to effectively take on this new role. As a result of a personal contact between a staff member of ONEE and a representative of SIAAP, the sanitation operator for the Paris region in France, a WOP was established.
The first phase lasted for 6 years and throughout this time, 70 technical staff members, engineers and managers were trained on sanitation systems, including treatment, flow management, microbiology, and environmental protection, among others. Furthermore, exchanges on documents and procedures allowed ONEE to develop its own procedures and reinforce the motivation of its employees and develop their capacity in this new domain. SIAAP employees were also trained on lagoon management through the partnership, benefitting from ONEE’s in-house expertise.
The partnership was funded directly by the two partners and SIAAP was able to cover all costs linked to its participation through the Oudin-Santini Law. This Law allows water and sanitation operators to use up to 1% of their budget to finance international cooperation action in their sector. The law was passed in 2005 and SIAAP have been actively engaging in development cooperation using these funds. The WOP with ONEE is one successful example of how this 1% is resulting in concrete improvements in partnering countries.
Thirteen years after the signature of the initial agreement, the collaboration is still active today although the structure and focus of the partnership has changed. In line with advances in new technology, the partners collaborate and exchange remotely. The exchanges have also been decentralized to create links between corresponding department in France and Morocco.