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.
- They focus on building the capacity of resident water operator staff, rather than ‘doing it for them.’ This way the benefits last.
- They are peer partnerships, meaning that the support comes from professional counterparts with hands-on experience grappling with day to day utility challenges.
- WOPs are carried out on a not-for profit basis and are not to be used for commercial purposes.
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.
Utilities may take up WOPs to support a range of objectives: increasing efficiency, introducing new functions such as pro-poor units or sanitation services, bettering environmental performance, facilitating access to finance, extending access to services, or rebuilding human resource capacity following a remunicipalization.
WOPs are used in a range of settings: from urban to small towns, and from middle income countries to low income and fragile states, and should always be fit to the local needs and context.
Story of the WOP between Belize Water Services (Belize) and Contra Costa Water District (USA). Hugo Rancharan. Assistant Operation Manager at BWS.
“It has been a very eye-opening experience learning from them every day. We apply what we learnt to be the best.”
Story of the WOP between Aguas de Xelaju (Guatemala) and the Municipal Operator of Zaragoza (Spain)
“Learning different ways of doing the same thing. On both sides of the Atlantic we have the same task: provide water to the community. It’s a two-way relationship in which both parties learn.”
Story of the WOP between Belize Water Services (Belize) and Contra Costa Water District (USA).
Eric Rhaburn. System supervisor at BWS.
“I realized that the product that I am giving out adds to the quality of life for thousands of people (…) We are implementing the things [learnt with Contra Costa] on a daily basis.”