The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, has asked UN-HABITAT to take a central role in the creation of a global centre focused on building and sustaining water operators’ partnerships worldwide.
Currently public water operators provide over 90 per cent of water and sanitation services and it is hoped that the proposed centre will help improve governance and the capacity of public water utilities towards achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets on water and sanitation and beyond.
On the occasion of the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico 2006, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) announced its Compendium of Actions (COA), which aim to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation. The Compendium of Actions is now known as the “Hashimoto Action Plan” after the Board’s late Chairman. Amongst others, the Action Plan proposes the creation and implementation of a global mechanism to promote water operators partnerships (WOPs), on a not-for-profit basis, between public water and sanitation operators themselves, or between a public operator and any other interested party, for the improvement of the public sector’s performance.
Presently no organization has the capacity to reach the thousands of water operators around the globe who control a large percentage of water and sanitation supply services. From its extensive experience working with local authorities, UN-HABITAT is well placed to promote and coordinate activities related to water operators’ partnerships at the international level.
Given that most water operators operate at a local or municipal level, even modest improvements in their work can go a long way to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The mechanism will allow operators to communicate amongst themselves and seek solutions without having to wait for the donor community, international financial institutions or other organisations help them establish contacts and develop projects. The centre will be able to help in a full range of water and sanitation issues including, for example, technical details of a particular type of pump or filtration system, staff management, new technologies and computerized billing and revenue collection systems.
Discussions are ongoing with Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of France to support the establishment of this centre.