IHE Delft is organizing its 6th session of the international symposium on knowledge and capacity development for the water sector on May 27-29, 2020, in cooperation with the Global Water Operator Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) and other partners.

The symposium will bring together scholars, decision-makers and practitioners to discuss the current and future role of capacity development and take a forward-looking and action-orientated approach.

By bringing together key stakeholders to consider the most pressing challenges and emerging solutions in the field, the Symposium aims to identify and improve upon the concepts, priorities, strategies and tools to develop institutional capacity and share knowledge at a global scale for addressing these challenges. The Symposium will also help outline the core skills, knowledge and attitudes the world’s water professionals and the institutions will need, and to build clear commitment to identify and act on concrete multi-stakeholder actions.

Call for abstracts

The Symposium provides a unique opportunity to present to an international, interdisciplinary and cross-sector delegation of water professionals, policy and decision makers, water users, development practitioners, researchers knowledge managers, educators and other capacity development specialists.

In addition to submissions by scientists and academics, submissions from practitioners, professionals and policy makers are especially encouraged to discuss the effectiveness and efficiency of capacity development in the water domain. Papers reporting original findings resulting from case studies and from rigorous analytical studies are particularly welcome.

Abstracts (400-500 words) must be submitted by 14 November 2019. Abstracts must provide a clear overview of the purpose and goal of the study/analysis/review, a description of the methodology, a short but meaningful discussion of key results with conclusions, and their relevance for the sector.

Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstract by 12 December 2019. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to provide either a full paper (4,000-10,000 words) by 29 February 2020, or a complete description for a poster.

They will be notified regarding the acceptance of their paper for presentation by 27 March 2020. After the Symposium, a final peer review will select updated papers for publication. Registration for the Symposium will open in December 2019.

For more information, visit the website: capdevsymposium.un-ihe.org


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.


This coming Friday, 12 July, as part of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), together with the Permanent Mission of Tajikistan, the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and the support of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, will hold the side event Delivering Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Current Climate Change Scenario – Innovative Responses from South-South Cooperation and Water Operators' Partnerships.

Enhanced international cooperation is crucial for mitigating and adapting to climate change, and South-South cooperation is gaining momentum as a meaningful approach to addressing this global challenge.  Most Water Operators' Partnerships' (WOPs) are South-South and many are helping utilities address climate change by helping utilities build sustainable capacity to reduce water losses, implement water safety plans, apply efficient and circular technologies, or develop inclusive pro-poor strategies. As the global climate reality becomes more extreme, a growing number of operators championing good climate change mitigation and adaptation practices, are highly motivated to share their expertise and innovation with others on a not-for-profit basis.

The event will take place at the UN Secretariat (Conference Room 6)See the last version of the programme), United Nations Headquarters, New York on Friday the 12th July 2019 from 15:00 - 16:30h. 


The year 2017 was one of the three warmest on record and was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period. An analysis by the World Meteorological Organization shows that the five-year average global temperature from 2013 to 2017 was also the highest on record. The world continues to experience rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions (the North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever recorded) and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. This calls for urgent and accelerated action by countries as they implement their commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.” – World Meteorological Organization

"As we face the spectre of growing unilateralism, protectionism and isolationism, it is increasingly vital that we empower partnerships for sustainable development. In this context, the efforts of the global South are gaining traction."UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed

The deregulation of the global climate is affecting the lives of people everywhere, but those in the Global South are particularly vulnerable, due to both their heightened exposure to climate perturbations and generally lower levels of resilience. 

Climate change makes itself felt mostly through the water cycle, and water and sanitation utilities are already experiencing its effects. Strong water and sanitation utilities are essential to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal on water (SDG 6), itself a prerequisite for achieving most other SDGs. Yet many utilities, already struggling with weak operational and management approaches, inadequate resources and deteriorating infrastructure, are poorly prepared to adapt to a widening scope of challenges, such as floods that wash away significant parts of their networks or severe droughts that deplete water resources resulting in extreme water supply shortages. 

For water and sanitation utilities, a deregulated climate is making water supplies less steady and predictable, and the normalization of droughts and other “extreme” events are exposing them more frequently to the risks of infrastructural damage and service cuts. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to increase with climate change as over 1.7 billion people currently live in river basins where water use exceeds recharge. As steady safe water supply is a pillar of resilience, the ability for utilities to maintain safe supplies is also key to communities withstanding and bouncing back from all types of potential adversity. 

Caribbean islanders, for example, live a harrowing climate duality. On the one hand, hurricanes in the region are notoriously ferocious. In August 2015, just days after a Caribbean operators’ training on strengthening resiliency to climate change, Hurricane Erika tragically took 20 lives on the island of Dominica. On the other hand, there are longer stretches of drought between rains, leaving crops thirsty and water utilities with diminishing supply. While receiving an unfair share of the impact of climate change, southern water and sanitation utilities also continue to contribute unduly to the GHG emissions that are the cause of this new climate crisis. High losses and water networks that rely on pumping heavy water resources across long distances mean that inefficiency in water utilities in the south are only worsening the problem. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that solutions such as groundwater recharge, wastewater treatment and reuse, watershed rehabilitation, rainwater harvesting, desalination, and reduction of non-revenue water, are increasingly discussed at the highest levels of management within the region’s water utilities. On the mitigation side, energy efficiency, transition to renewable sources and even energy generation in water utilities is growing. What’s more, learning is accelerating, twinning partnership relationships are being forged among utilities and in some cases, climate change mitigation and adaption funds offer new sources of financing for green and grey infrastructure. With threats mounting to water operations and sources, time is short to find solutions, but learning and experimentation is well underway.

The event will give some examples of utility-led water and climate innovations in the developing south and showcase partnerships that are helping to share these approaches.

Monday, 08 July 2019 12:17

Hosting Call for the GWOPA Secretariat

Today, strong local water and sanitation utilities are more important than ever. Recognizing the continued importance of the Water Operators Partnerships practice, UN-Habitat is pleased to open a hosting call for it's GWOPA Secretariat, to continue refining and scaling up the approach to help more local water and sanitation service providers deliver sustainable services to all globally.

The opportunity to host UN-Habitat's GWOPA for a 5 year period arises upon the expiry of the current hosting agreement with Barcelona, Spain where the GWOPA Secretariat has been based since 2013, thanks to the financial support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

The Secretariat is focused on strengthening public water utilities around the world and enhancing collaboration between them. As a global convener, GWOPA brings diverse water and urban stakeholders including governments at local, regional and national levels, financial partners, development organizations, private utilities, civil society and labour unions together around the same table.

The hosting call is open to any United Nations Member State or public entity endorsed by its national government.

For further information, please see the hosting call.


At the Annual Conference of the German Water Partnership (GWP) in Berlin last month, GWP’s Operation and Capacity Development working group, together with German Ministry of Development Cooperation (BMZ), presented a new initiative that would help Germany’s many public water and wastewater utilities to overcome a longstanding barrier to their participation in WOPs.

While utilities in other European countries have become increasingly involved in supporting their peer utilities in developing countries, German utilities have been limited from doing so, they are legally not allowed to spend any local revenues funds from their customers outside of their service area. Whereas other countries’ utilities are able to offer staff time to help their peers overseas in-kind, or recover it through so-called “1%” laws, such as exist in France or the Netherlands, German utilities are hindered from doing so by law

However, the statutes of most public utilities in Germany allow them to support peer utilities abroad if the financial expenses are fully covered. BMZ has announced to fund these partnerships by having their costs recovered by BMZ. The Ministry has agreed to open 3-year pilot project for 4 WOPs which starts by end of this year. A model for the German WOPs has been developed by GWP in the last years and is called Sustainable Utility Partnerships (SUP), see more information here.

Because many public utilities in Germany lack international experiences and tend to be small, there will be a bigger lead partner utility in charge for one partnership project and additional staff will be drawn from up to several utilities for each partnership with a southern counterpart. The lead partner coordinates the whole administrative and managerial aspects towards the donor, the smaller German utilities and the mentee utility.

The hope is to build more long-term collaboration for Water Operators Partnerships in the long run.

The pilot project aligns with Germany’s water sector policies and will probably focus in priority countries – Jordan, Ukraine, Morocco and Zambia. Over the coming months, a number of “matchmaking” events will be held to pair up mentee utilities in these countries with interested mentors from Germany.

German GIZ and SKEW will facilitate the initiative logistics, however the organizers insisted that the utilities should sit in the leading seat of the partnerships.

GWOPA welcomed Germany as a strong new partner in the global WOPs community and offered its support in showcasing the Germans’ experience through its global platform.



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: http://cawasa.org/cawasa/event/6th-caribbean-water-operators-conference-exhibition-2019/

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.


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.


Monday, 10 June 2019 18:02

Hosting Call for the GWOPA Secretariat

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 (http://castwas-cewe.org)


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.

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