From 26 to 28 June 2019, the 6th Water Operators Conference will be held in Saint Lucia in collaboration with host utility, the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO).

The conference is designed as a platform for water operators and partners to discuss real issues and share innovations to contemporary challenges. It is the only conference of its kind that targets water and sewerage operators in the Caribbean Region.

The theme for this year’s conference is Teaming with Water Operators: Building Climate Resilient Water Utilities. This is in partial fulfillment of CAWASA’s contribution to the implementation of the fifth component of the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) for Governance and Climate Resilience in the Water Sector in the Caribbean.

See the programme for more information:

A unique feature of the conference is the Water Operators’ Competition organized for the Operators to test their competence in areas directly related to their functions. This year, the operators will also visit some of WASCO's facilities and on-going projects to study how water utilities projects are being implemented.

The effects of climate change are being felt by all water utilities across the Caribbean region, manifesting in insufficient water supply due to frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, hurricanes, flash flooding and resultant damage to infrastructure. Climate change exacerbates previous challenges that water utilities were already experiencing such as water shed degradation, insufficient investments, weak supporting legislation, inadequate tariff regimes, poor information management, high levels of non-revenue water and weak integrated water resource management systems.

As climate change bears down on the Caribbean region, the situation is turning dangerous for public health and economic growth. Rapid learning and adoption of new resiliency and source water protection measures are essential.

Building resilience of utilities is more than investing in infrastructure. It also requires investing in the people in the utilities who are ultimately responsible for the efficient operations and maintenance of these assets. Training of the operators is a fundamental element in improving water utilities.

The conference allows operators to showcase best practices and experiences at their respective utilities through technical presentations and provides an excellent opportunity to introduce the Action Plan to the operators and to receive their feedback on the implementation strategies from an operational perspective.


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.


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 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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