1. Where can I find more information about WOPs and the EU- WOPs Programme?

The complete application dossier, consisting of the Call for Proposals Guidelines, the Phase I Application Form, the Phase II Application Form and their respective annexes and templates, will be accessible on the EU-WOP Programme Webpage.

Any new information for applicants is shared on the GWOPA website Applicants are advised to check it regularly.

2. Why should I apply to the EU-WOP Programme?

As a Mentor:

  • To exercise solidarity or corporate social responsibility with overseas communities
  • To contribute to global sustainability objectives/local or national development objectives
  • To attract or retain staff through international exposure and mentoring experience
  • To boost staff morale
  • To share skills with fellow peers and forge new alliances

As a Beneficiary Partner:

  • To gain exposure to new knowledge, ideas, technology, approaches, high-caliber skills and capacity
  • To address pressing operational/capacity challenges
  • To strengthen internal processes
  • To get help in implementing new projects
  • To realise local development objectives
  • To acquire or sustain investments
  • To get international exposure and experience
  • To boost staff morale
  • To forge new alliances

As a facilitator, financier, or other types of supporting actor:

  • To facilitate WOPs and increase visibility of the practice
  • To include WOPs in development programming, as worthwhile investment and/or precursors to investment
  • To ensure an enabling environment for WOPs, support advocay and encourage engagement of utilities

3. What are the categories of Project Partners and, what legal status must each have to be eligible applicants/co-applicants?

Lead Partner

The main implementing partner or “mentor” within the partnership. The Lead Partner is responsible for submitting the application and, if selected, entering into an Agreement of Cooperation with UN-Habitat to receive the funding and manage the grant.

The Lead Partner must be a water/sanitation service provider that is either a government body or publicly owned and is registered and operating in a European or DCI country.

Beneficiary Partner

The organization that is the target of the WOP support, otherwise known as a “mentee”.Beneficiary Partners are also active participants in the WOP, working with other partners to accomplish WOP objectives.

A Beneficiary Partner must be a water/sanitation service provider that is either a government body or publicly owned and is registered and operating in a DCI country.

Additional Partner

Organizations that contribute actively and on a not-for-profit basis to the WOP project objectives, as comentors, financiers, facilitators, or other types of supporting roles, associated to the WOP project through the WOP agreement.

Organizations may be not-for-profit, public, or private entities1 registered in a member state of the European Union or a DCI-approved country, play

1 Private entities may participate but are not eligible for staff time compensation.

4. What are the possible constellations of partners in a WOP project?

As in all Water Operators Partnerships, there is a ‘mentor’ and ‘mentee’ utility at the core of the EU-WOP Projects. Beyond that, there are many possible variations on the theme:

  • There may be more than one mentee A Lead Partner mentor may provide support to more than one Beneficiary Partner utility, including from different countries if relevant and demonstrably logistically feasible.
  • There may be more than one mentor A secondary mentor or ‘co-mentor’ can join hands with the Lead Partner as an Additional Partner to mentor the Beneficiary Partner(s). Mentors can be from different countries too.

5. What type of organisations are eligible to apply as Lead Partners?

Publicly owned or run water and sanitation service providers from EU or DCI can apply as Lead Partners. They can be rural or urban, large or small but must be over 50% publicly owned. NGOs, private operators, academic organisations or other actors who can add value to the WOP cannot be Lead Partners but can be Additional Partners at the request of the Lead and Beneficiary partners. Please check eligibility criteria.

6. Can only EU nationals be Lead Partners?

No. Operators from DCI countries can also be Lead Partners. A list of DCI approved countries can be found in Annex D. The WOPs may be “North-South” (European mentor supporting a DCI mentee), “South-South” (DCI mentor supporting a DCI mentee) or ‘Triangular’ (a North-North- South or North-South-South configuration).

7. How can other organisations (not public utilities) get involved? And what costs can be covered?

Organisations that add value to the WOP can be an Additional Partners. Within the WOP Project, there is space for a diversity of additional roles, so long as they are not-for-profit and support the core WOP activity. These may include, but not limited to, local government associations, consortia of utilities, academia, regulators, utility associations, etc. Additional partners can receive fund transfers to cover their staff costs, coordination, facilitation, or specific one-off expertise inputs, however, all funding is channeled through the applying Lead Partner.

8. Can domestic WOPs be supported?

Yes, domestic WOPs (with Lead and Beneficiary partners from the same country) are eligible for the Programme as per the eligibility criteria.

9. Where can my organization seek support to find Project Partners?

If your organization is a water and sanitation operator and would like to give or receive support from a peer through an EU-WOP project, but don’t have a partner, the GWOPA Secretariat will organize briefing sessions for interested applicants. The briefing sessions will respond to questions that you may have regarding the application process. Find out more about the scheduled sessions at

The GWOPA Secretariat will also seek to connect interested parties based on expressions of interest:

  • If you are a potential mentor looking for a mentee, please submit this form.
  • If you are a potential mentee looking for a mentor, please complete this form.

Please note that information provided in these forms will be shared in the interest of connecting partners.

10. Can I seek additional support in the preparation of my application?

The GWOPA Secretariat will not offer case-by-case support or advise for the preparation of an application. Applicants are encouraged to join briefing and matchmaking sessions announed at the EU-WOP Programme Webpage.

Proposed WOP Partners are encouraged to work together to develop applications, using their own resources. Those applicants that outsource proposal writing support from an external party will not be compensated for any such service should they be successful grantees.

11. Within the WOP Project, is there a maximum number of Project Partners allowed?

Category Maximum number of Category Project Partners allowed (Per Wop)
Total partners No limit
Lead partners 1
Beneficiary Partners 5
Additional Partners 5
Total Mentors (Lead Partner + Additional partners in a mentoring role) 3

12. Is there a limit to the number of application one can apply for?

There is no established limit for the number of applications a given Beneficiary or Additional Partner may appear in. If an applicant sends more than one Phase I Application, each application should be submitted separately, and a reference should be made noting all other proposals in which a given partner is involved.

Note, however, that the Selection Committee will take into account the capacities of a given partner when determining proposal selection. the Selection Committee will cap the number of WOP Projects awarded to any given Lead Partner to five (5).

13. How can I maximize my chances of submitting a successful proposal?

Applicants are encouraged to align their proposals with the programme objectives and selection criteria. We recommend that applicants thoroughly study the Guidelines and the Evaluation Criteria (Annex B) in detail as this framework will be used by the Selection Committee to evaluate the proposals.

Applicants can also take part in online briefing sessions organized by GWOPA or its partners. See EU-WOP Programme Webpage for more information.

14. What does the proposal evaluation process include? Who will be evaluating proposals?

UN-Habitat will select WOP Projects for funding through a two-stage process. The Phase I Application is selective and only those proposals with a very high chance of success will proceed to Phase II.

Evaluation and selection will be conducted by a Selection Committee comprised of staff from UN-Habitat and EU DEVCO. The committee will evaluate Proposals against the evaluation grid presented in the application pack, vet partners based on information submitted as part of the application process, and ensure alignment with UN rules and procedures.

Members of the Selection Committee will have signed a “no conflict of interest declaration,” attesting that their appraisals will in no way provide any benefit to themselves, or persons with whom they have family, business, personal or financial ties and that they will not be engaged in the implementation or supervision of any of the WOP proposals that they are appraising.

Once an initial Phase I selection has been made, the Selection Committee may be in touch with Lead Partners regarding the completion of their Phase II Applications.

15. Should I budget for independent evaluations in my proposal?

There are no project-level evaluations in the EU-WOP programme, so there is no need to budget for them. Independent mid-term and final evaluations for the entire EU-WOP programme will be managed by UN-Habitat and may involve visits to individual WOP sites or interviews with partners.

EU-WOP Project Partners will be expected to collaborate in the evaluation process, as required. Note that Lead Partners are required to undertake an independent audit on project expenses2.

2 Audit must be conducted based on international audit standards. Audit opinion to be based on financial statements of the project (both revenues and expenditures).

16. If my WOP is selected, will I receive my entire budget in one instalment?

Lead Partners of selected WOP projects will receive the agreed budgeted funds in yearly disbursements. The initial instalment advance cannot exceed 30% of the total value of the AoC.

The second (2nd) and third (3rd) instalments will each be 30% of the total value of the AoC. The final instalment will be 10% of the total value of the AoC.

Lead Partners of selected WOP projects will be required to submit technical and financial progress reports prior to receiving the second, third, and final instalments.

The final instalment will be made only upon submission of satisfactory final substantive/ technical and audited financial reports.

Refer to Guidelines section on Rules Governing Financial Management of Grant in the application pack.

17. Do I need co-financing for my WOP to be successful?

WOPs tend to be more successful where WOP Partners contribute financially. Beneficiary Partner contributions in particular bode well for WOP success and will be seen as a demonstration of commitment to the WOP improvement process.

Counterpart funding by all Project Partners, in cash or in-kind, is therefore strongly encouraged and will be evaluated favourably in the evaluation of proposals. Beneficiary Partners must contribute co-financing, as a minimum, through the in-kind contribution of staff time.

Where possible, additional contributions from donors will also be viewed as a demonstration of the Project Partners commitment to leverage financial investment. Lead and Additional Partners’ staff time costs may be recovered (fully or partially, depending on their status) under the grant where necessary.

Lead and Additional Partners’ are encouraged nevertheless to contribute cash and in-kind to the WOP where possible. Beneficiary Partners must commit cash and/or in-kind contributions to the WOP project.

Beneficiary staff time cannot be covered by the grant but can be counted as an in-kind contribution to the WOP. Further contributions of Beneficiary Partners’ own budget will be viewed very favourably.

18. Does an organization need to be an official WOP Partner in order to contribute financial support?

No, a WOP project budget can include as a counterpart contribution financial inputs towards the project objectives made by organizations that are not official partners of the WOP. However, organizations that add value to the WOP substantively or financially are encouraged to associate as Additional Partners as their involvement bodes well for the partner arrangement evaluation.

19. Can private companies be partners in the WOP?

Private companies are welcome to participate in the WOPs as Additional Partners, however, they are not eligible to receive funds from the project budget, except for travel expenses where justified.

WOPs may engage private companies to provide services/goods that cannot be provided by the WOP Partners, subject to the Lead Partner’s financial mechanisms and the rules of this project (under 40,000 USD and only on a one-off basis). In this case the company is considered a service provider, not a partner in the WOP.

20. Can our WOP run longer than three years?

WOP Projects under the EU WOP Call for Proposals must have a fundable duration of 36 months. This does not mean, however, that the WOP can only last 36 months. To the contrary, WOP projects are highly encouraged to continue beyond the 36-month funding duration of the EU-WOP Programme if needed, using other funding sources.

21. Can organisations that are not from Europe or DCI countries participate as Partners in the EU WOP Programme?

Only organisations from European or DCI (see annex) countries can participate as partners in EU-WOP Projects.

22. What is meant by project communications? What are the expectations?

As a requirement of EU-funded projects, all WOPs projects under this programme will need to contribute to a minimum of awareness raising and outreach about their EU-funded work with their relevant audiences.

GWOPA/UN-Habitat will lead overall EU WOP Programme Communications activities to raise awareness of EUfunded activities and their impacts. However individual WOP projects are required to conduct a minimum level of communication toward their local audiences and/or to participate in events. Selected WOP Projects will be supported with guidelines on communication activities in due course, however Lead Partners may budget 5,000 to 10,000 USD for these activities.

23. What is the Knowledge Exchange Component? Why do WOP Project Partners need to participate in learning events with participants of other WOP projects under this programme?

During the EU WOP Programme, GWOPA will offer various opportunities for virtual and physical training and knowledge exchange between the projects of the programme. These knowledge activities aim to help make the WOPs activities more effective, to document experience and knowledge gained through the projects, and to share with external audiences.

WOP partners are required to build into their WOP plans and budgets a minimum of staff time per year to participate in these knowledge exchange activities for which more information will be provided in the Phase II Application and initial implementation.

24. Certain water/sanitation operators may be strong enough to provide capacity development in certain areas, but weak and needing support in others. Can an organization appear in different proposals as different types of partners (i.e. Beneficiary, Additional, Lead)?

Yes, an organisation may be a Beneficiary Partner in one proposal, and a Lead Partner or Additional Partner in another (separate) proposal.

25. What is meant by co-mentoring and why is this being encouraged?

One of the EU-WOP programme’s objectives is to build capacity for Water Operators’ Partnerships beyond this programme, so that more utilities around the world can help their peers improve. Currently, there are more operators asking for help than there are operators able to provide it, so building the pool of capable mentors is essential to scaling up the practice of WOPs.

Co-mentoring is being promoted in this call for proposals to encourage first-time mentors to get involved in WOPs, and to lower the learning curve. Co-mentoring may be appealing to new actors’ keen to participate in a WOP but who would prefer working alongside a more seasoned WOP mentor. Conversely, a seasoned WOP mentor adopting a co-mentor position may wish to support a new mentor in geting started with WOPs.

Co-mentors may enrich a WOP by bringing additional expertise and capacity to the WOP project.

In times of travel restrictions, co-mentoring may prove to be a resourceful option where regional travel may be less restricted than international travel.

Any mentors beyond the “Lead Partner” would participate as an “Additional Partner.” Where there are multiple mentors (there may be a maximum of three per WOP), the “Lead Partner” does not have to be the more/most experienced. Mentors can be from European or DCI countries or both.

26. WOPs are usually between peer utilities. Why are other categories of partners being encouraged to join in?

Peer exchange between water and sanitation operators remains the core of the EU-WOP projects. However, other types of stakeholders, able to contribute meaningfully to the project objectives on a not-forprofit basis with their expertise, resources, support, outreach or networks, are encouraged to be associated in the WOP Consortium as “Additional Partners”.

Such partner’s involvement of the WOP should be instrumental to the effective, coordinated implementation of WOP activities, or to the quality, scale and sustainability of WOP results.

They may be co-mentors (see question 22 above), WOP facilitators or utility associations, financial institutions, relevant local institutions (urban planning, waste management, health or conservation authorities), financial institutions, NGOs, knowledge and academic institutions, civil society organizations, trade unions or private sector actors.

27. Why is investment important? Aren’t WOPs about capacity development?

Capacity and finance are tightly-linked and mutually supporting considerations in extending sustainable water and sanitation services to all, since capacitated utilities are better able to sustainably manage their own finances and secure and utilize investment finance. Conversely, infrastructure investments accompanied by strong capacity development are more impactful and sustainable. Essentially, a little investment in capacity makes precious money go a lot further.

28. What happens if COVID-19 or other obstacles prevent travel between countries?

It is recommended that all proposals be designed to account for potential travel restrictions or quarantines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicants may be requested to clarify/present budget scenarios where travel is restricted.

Although learning and exchange visits between one utility to another is usually a key component of WOPs, applicants are encouraged to consider viable alternatives that foster the exchange of knowledge and expertise between partners remotely, as a backup at least.

29. What is the difference between Window 1 and Window 2?

Window 1 will fund new WOPs in which the Lead Partner and the Beneficiary Partner(s) have no previous partnership history or up to, but not exceeding, one year of partnership history. Projects under this window are expected to generate capacity and initial performance improvements for the mentee utilities. (Total indicative funding for Window: approximately 4.75 Million USD).3

Window 2 will fund recent or ongoing WOPs that build on at least one year of recent partnership history.4 Such partnership history must have occurred in the last three years. They aim to build on ongoing capacity and performance improvements and, where appropriate, help accompany or bridge towards investments for the mentee utility. (Total indicative funding for Window: approximately 3.5 Million USD).

3 Window 1 proposals need not include a co-mentoring approach. However, the co-mentoring approach is considered an asset in the evaluation of the proposed WOPs, particularly where a more senior or mentor with more WOP experience teams up with a more junior mentor. While this approach is seen as especially valuable for Window 1 applicants, co-mentorship and senior/ junior co-mentorship in particular, is also seen as a valuable approach for an ongoing WOP (i.e. Window 2 proposals).

4 Partnership history refers to any kind of cooperation between partners. Proof of agreement must be demonstrated through a cooperation agreement, memorandum of understanding, or partnership agreement. This proof need not be a legally binding document. Previous partnership history need not apply to all WOP partners but must include Lead Partner and at least one Beneficiary Partner.

30. What should the endorsement letter from the Beneficiary Partner look like?

The Beneficiary Partner needs to send a letter of endorsement with the first phase application, outlining their commitment to the proposal and counterpart contributions to the proposed WOP, signed at the highest appropriate level. Please find a sample template here.

31. What information will be included in the MoU? Is there a template?

The MoU template will be available shortly. It will include the overall goals of the project, the basic information about roles and responsibilities of the partners, the frequency and nature of meetings and reports, etc. The agreement will commit the partners to following the GWOPA code of conduct, which can be found in the Annex C of the Call for Proposals Package.

32. Where can I find the Agreement of Cooperation with UN-Habitat?

This is a generic Agreement of Cooperation template of the type that will be used for the agreement between UN-Habitat and the Lead Partners. Some details will differ in the final version to be used under the EU-WOP Programme, however this provides an indication of the agreement content.

33. I am unable to add signature in the Application Form (PDF). What can I do?

Please follow these instructions to add your signature to the PDF document:

Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Click on Fill & Sign in the Tools pane on the right.
Click Sign, and then select Add Signature.
A popup will open, giving you three options—Type, Draw, and Image. Once you’re done, click the Apply button.
Drag, resize and position the signature inside your PDF file.

If you still have trouble endorsing the document directly, please send a side letter with the needed text (as it appears in the Application Form, including checkboxes, etc.), signed.


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Global Water Operators’ Partnerships’ Alliance (GWOPA)
Urban Basic Services Section, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat
UN Campus Bonn, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
53113 Bonn, Germany