Lessons Learned in NRW reduction from 8 RVO-Sustainable Water Fund co-financed WOPs

In mid-July 2021, over 50 water, sanitation and hygiene practitioners (team leaders, thematic experts, portfolio managers) from around the world participated in a webinar that reflected on the findings of a completed Review of achieved results, underlying approaches and contributing factors to success of 8 Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction interventions by 19 water operators in Asia and Africa between 2012 and 2019.

The workshop kicked-off by emphasizing the importance of dedicating staff capacity to NRW reduction; considering the pivotal influence on water use efficiency (by reducing physical losses) and sales (by reducing commercial losses) -> revenue collection -> O&M/full cost coverage -> debt financing capacity to expand network coverage and service delivery to the urban poor.

The Review emphasized the importance of a company-wide focus (beyond ‘piloting’ in one or two ‘small’ District Metered Areas) that addresses organisational development needs i.e. a guiding NRW strategy/plan based on a comprehensive assessment, dedicated NRW unit, flow/pressure measurement equipment, technical and ‘soft’ staff skills, leadership style of managers. By prioritising ‘low cost-high impact’ commercial loss reduction activities at the onset the required revenue can be generated to finance the more capital intensive network rehabilitation needs (physical loss reduction).

This approach ensures that management buy-in (appreciation of the sense of urgency) is secured in embedding ‘demonstrated practices’ in standard operating procedures that are resourced with the required staff, logistics (transport) and equipment to sustain the results beyond the duration of the project.

Lastly, an interesting debate centered around the idea of establishing a ‘revolving fund’ in which monitored costs savings and revenue increments in DMAs are ‘ring-fenced’ and ‘ploughed bac’k in NRW reduction interventions with a good return on investment (i.e. upscaling) – further improving the financial performance of the utility of the company with an explicit agenda to expand network coverage/service connections to the urban poor.

You can access here the presentation of the webinar, and join the site of the the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) The Sustainable Water Fund programme (FDW) here. The programme aims to contribute to water safety and water security in developing countries.

Via this online platform, FDW partners and RVO project advisors exchange knowledge to contribute towards improved results delivery. You will have to request permission to join the ‘FDW PPP Community group’, and your access will then need to be approved by an administrator.

For more details on the Review findings, see the published Practice Note. If you are interested to join a fast growing ‘Community of Practitioners’ (CoP) in NRW reduction (currently over 75 members), please contact Reint-Jan de Blois – NRW CoP Coordinator.