Jerrycans lined up for water in Nairobi © UN-HABITAT
The three bids were in response to UN-Habitat's call for expressions for interest which opened last January. The offers would see Barcelona (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), or Delft (The Netherlands) become home to GWOPA Secretariat for the next five years.
The Alliance was launched by UN-Habitat in 2007 upon the request of former Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in response to the Hashimoto Action Plan, a United Nations Secretary General Advisory Board (UNSGAB) report advising on key actions to hasten the pace of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) achievement. In it, the Advisory Board called for a global mechanism to scale up the practice of not-for-profit peer support between the world's water and sanitation service providers – so-called Water Operators' Partnerships (WOPs).
The Call for Expression of Interest, which closed on April 30th, required proposals to include secretariat space within an international hub and a minimum of one million USD annual contributions. "The offers we have received are highly competitive" says Faraj El-Awar, GWOPA Programme Manager. "We recognize the efforts that have gone into mounting these proposals and we are very grateful to all three of the candidate cities for the interest they have shown."
"We see this strong response to our call as recognition of the urgent need to bolster the capacity of public water and sanitation operators to sustainably provide their citizens with quality, affordable basic services, as well as the huge underutilized potential of WOPs to help operators help one another on a solidarity basis" added Bert Diphoorn, Basic Services Senior Advisor at UN-Habitat.
Since its launching in 2007, GWOPA has been hosted by UN-Habitat in Nairobi, integrated within its Urban Basic Services Branch. The Alliance reports to an International Steering Committee comprised of representatives from water utilities and associations, development partners, labor unions, civil society and the private sector. It aims to provide advocacy, expertise, financial linking, brokering, and regional coordination services to WOPs efforts worldwide.
Under the new hosting arrangements, GWOPA would operate within a newly established UN-Habitat office in the selected city. The final decision on relocation of the GWOPA Secretariat will be made in the coming weeks upon detailed review of the proposals and technical visits to the various candidate cities.