“We see young people as the future decision makers of utilities”

Interview with Adriaan Mels, Regional Director Vitens Evides International (VEI), WaterWorX Coordinator, and Marjon Reiziger, Programme Manager YEP Programmes, by the YEP Programme


To achieve SDG6 – access to water and sanitation for all – partnerships are crucial.

WaterWorX is a partnership of public water operators to increase access to sustainable water services for 10 million people between 2017-2030. GWOPA is supporting this initiative with knowledge and advocacy to promote such programmes replicated around the world. Since the start of WaterWorX in 2017, they developed a tailor-made training programme together with Young Expert Programmes (YEP Tailor-made). So far, WaterWorX and YEP Programmes have engaged 43 local Young Experts in its Water Operator Partnerships (WOP) programs.

Water Operator Partnerships aim to transfer expertise and skills of the Dutch water companies to partner utilities in the global south. Dutch water experts engage with colleagues and in that engagement transfer their knowledge and experience on how to improve water utility operations. Adriaan Mels, WaterWorX coordinator, worked together with Marjon Reiziger, Programme Manager YEP Programmes, for training and coaching of Young Experts within the regular YEP programme.

The YEP Programme (YP) spoke with Adriaan (AM) and Marjon (MR), and this is what they shared:

AM: This training and coaching can be seen as the ‘heart’ of our work and a key condition for improvement of the performance of water utilities. We are big fans of YEP Programmes because we see young people as the future decision makers of our partner utilities’.

YP: Most of the Young Experts are employed by the partner utilities and are receiving training and coaching supervision by the YEP Programmes.

MR: Most Young Experts are curious and eager to learn, they are ambitious and flexible. They like the combination of personal development, offered by YEP Programmes, and the opportunity to develop their professional skills as part of the engagement with Dutch water experts and the work within the WOPs. Many of them have also developed a network with other Young Experts within the WaterWorX programme and use it to share experience and ideas

AM: We see that many of them are making career steps within the partner utilities as a result of their YEP training. The biggest contribution is in their personal development: they are more self-aware, have a better understanding of what they want for their career, have developed their presentation and networking skills and dare to ask questions’. This might be the reasons most of the Young Experts continue their career in the partner utilities after the end of their programme.

YP: Together with Marjon, Adriaan offers the Young Experts a masterclass in Change Management.

AM: In general, I see that many Young Experts are somehow engaged in projects that aim for change. However, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge in this field. That is how we jointly started this masterclass. It has been running now for 7-8 years and we always receive enthusiastic responses from the participants. I like the interaction with the participants and enjoy reading their case studies, their challenges and the creativity to overcome them.

YP: The first WaterWorX batch (Tm1) together with YEP Programmes has come to an end.
A new batch (Tm2) has already been set up. Tm2 aims to train another batch of new an additional 50-60 Young Experts and support them in the growth of their career in the WaterWorX partner utilities. In addition, it also aims at providing new Young Experts training and coaching support by alumni Young Experts from the region. Alumni Young Experts are also involved in giving masterclasses online and are trained as coaches.

The actual YEP training programme is based on blended learning: online learning, live training sessions and intervision weekends in the regions and countries. A strong YEP Global network is created and consists already of more than 500 Young Experts in which the WaterWorX Young Experts participate fully.


This interview was originally published at YEP Effect magazine. Full content here

Cover photo courtesy of the YEP Programmes