Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) are peer-support partnerships between water and sanitation service providers. WOPs work by harnessing the skills, knowledge and goodwill within a strong utility to build the capacity and improve the performance of another utility that needs assistance or guidance.
WOPs make use of the fact that while many local water and sanitation service providers are struggling, others have great performance and are willing to support others in their improvement process on a not-for-profit basis. Through mentorship, WOPs progressively strengthen and empower beneficiary utilities on management, financial and technical levels to implement operational and organizational changes that lead to better and more sustainable services.
Compared with other efforts to enhance operator performance, WOPs stand out in their emphasis on strengthening local capacity for sustainable improvements. In WOPs, dedicated capacity development activities introduce knowledge, skills and new processes, inducing operational changes that, once having taken root, result in improved performance within the mentee utility. A key strength of WOPs is that, rather than substituting capacity, they focus on helping local utility staff to make lasting improvements that can continue well beyond the life of the partnership.