EU-WOP Programme generates strong interest from operators in Latin America, Asia and Europe

Water and sanitation operators have until April 15, 2021 to submit their applications

The deadline to submit questions has been extended to March 31, 2021

Proposals for new or ‘mature’ WOPs welcome in English, French or Spanish

A month and a half after the launch of the Call for Proposals for the EU-WOP Programme, interest from water and sanitation service providers to apply has been very strong. Many queries are coming from operators and other organizations that were previously unfamiliar with the WOP practice, suggesting a strong wave of interest from new WOP practitioners.

Over 500 people have joined the Programme’s multilingual information sessions co-organized by GWOPA and regional partners, aimed at raising awareness on the funding opportunity and briefing on the eligibility criteria and steps to apply.

Water and sanitation operators have been, unsurprisingly, the biggest group to attend the sessions, representing more than 40% of all participants. The EU-WOP programme provides an opportunity for strong water and sanitation service providers to support their peers who are struggling with technical, financial and managerial challenges. The Water Operators Partnerships (WOPs) to be funded under the programme provide an opportunity to address these challenges.

Aqua Publica Europea (APE), a European Association of Public Water operators, has been one among many partners that has been actively encouraging its network to be involved. According to Milo Fiasconaro, Executive Director of APE, the Programme plays a key role in fostering the participation of a growing number of  water utilities in solidarity-based international cooperation projects. It is designed in such a way as to facilitate larger projects with more partners, from both Europe and beneficiary-countries. According to Milo, “the projects supported by the EU-WOP Programme will bring together the best of European expertise in water management and thus provide a substantial contribution to strengthening of the capacity of public water utilities across the world, with a substantial impact on the improvement of the access to water for all and the fight to climate change impact”.

WOP project proposals, which can be submitted in English, French or Spanish in this First Phase of the Call, can be North-South, South-South or Triangular. To generate and boost local, regional and global connection, the GWOPA Secretariat is helping connect interested parties based on expressions of interest. Potential mentees looking for mentors can fill in this online form to get visibility and share valuable information for mentors and additional partners in search for mentees. A list of potential mentee utilities is available here.

Valeria Suárez, Coordinator of WOP-LAC, the regional WOP platform for Latin America and the Caribbean, commented that some operators are working on the projects to be presented while others are advancing in the process of identifying potential mentors, with the support of GWOPA /UN-Habitat. “In the LAC region, the EU-WOP Programme presents an opportunity to promote WOPs, both South-South and North-South opening a way for the improvement of competencies, and obtaining concrete results in LAC as a further step towards achieving the SDGs.”

Since the launch of the Programme, the WOP-LAC Secretariat has disseminated the guidelines among the members of the Platform, receiving expressions of interest regarding key issues for the region, such as reduction of NRW, protection of water sources and watershed management, water quality and early warning of pollutants, wastewater treatment, digitalization and innovation, and communication and customer service, among others.

In response to questions received via email and raised during the information sessions, the GWOPA Secretariat developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) site available in English, French and Spanish, which is updated regularly. The deadline to submit questions for Phase I has been extended two weeks, from 15 March to 31 March.