February 6, 2023, marked the successful completion of diagnostic visits to the water utilities of Bidre, Bulle, and Doyo Gena Towns located in the Oromia and SNNPR Regions of Ethiopia, respectively. As a result, the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) Secretariat and UNICEF Ethiopia entered into an agreement to strengthen the capacity of these new water service providers through Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs).
To improve the performance of the utilities in different working areas, one international mentor National Water & Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) Uganda, and two local mentors, Ambo Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise and Wolaita Sodo Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise, one from each region were selected. After a six-month-long planning and preparation phase, the implementation phase kick-started with the GWOPA Secretariat hosting a Kick-Off Workshop on WOPs, followed by a preparatory meeting with all the mentors to finalize the work plan for the next two years.
Together with the Regional Water Bureaus (RWBs) and Town Administrations of the three towns, the two-week-long diagnostic mission was conducted successfully by the UNICEF WASH team along with NWSC Uganda and local mentors’ team members.
The next step will be an exposure visit in early March 2023 from the three mentees and local mentors to National Water and Sewerage Corporation in Kampala, Uganda. The delegation will be joined by staff members from other Ethiopian utilities sponsored by UNICEF Ethiopia. The entire diagnosis process will result in the participatory design of Short-Term Action Plans for the three mentees, focusing on a number of working areas to be determined.
Seeing the effort and promise of this WOP, one of the local mentors, Ambo Town Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise, graciously donated 100 water meters to the Bidre town Water Utility and provided three days of hands-on training to the staff, covering all their travel and DSA costs! Wolaita Sodo Water Supply and Sewerage Enterprise have also committed to delivering the same support to their mentee town utilities.
Believing in the potential of the program, the Ethiopian Water Supply and Sewerage Federation have also expressed its commitment to participate in the entire diagnostic process and take ownership of the sustainability of the program in the long run.
GWOPA hopes that through these three pilot WOPs, the Ethiopian water sector will embrace WOPs at a national scale, and we stand ready to help our Ethiopian partners through that journey!