Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Water Association (IWA) and UN-HABITAT recently facilitated a matchmaking workshop in Medellin, Colombia for twining between water and sanitation operators in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
The workshop brought together some 26 participants from Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as from the Netherlands and it had the aim of twining water and sanitation operators in the region as a regional and demand-driven cooperation mechanism for peer-to-peer support among operators and helping utilities support one another to contribute to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the water and sanitation sector.
UN-HABITAT, through its chairing of the Secretariat of the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), is dedicating specific and sustained efforts to the regional water operators processes in Latin American Countries with one professional officer fully focused on the activities in the region and resources which this year alone will amount up to US$70,000.
During last year and a half we have been focusing on the development the Water Operators’ Partnership in Latin America and the Caribbean (WOP-LAC) regional platform, mainly gathering efforts form different strategic partners regarding the design of our core objectives, governing structure, strategic planning and work plans for this regional network, but also bearing all time in mind that for the Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) mechanism it is key, for developing efficient and effective peer-to-peer supports between operators, to design tailor-made partnerships according to the needs, interests and expectations from the operators which finally will come into these Water Operators’ Partnerships for improving their capacities, and accordingly their performance in water and sanitation service provision for all.
For this purpose it has been planned and is being implemented a matchmaking tool for approaching operators to help one to another through a step-by-step process of mutual knowledge and cooperation, all with the aim of having the best and most adapted Water Operators’ Partnerships to the expectations from each party.
The first step has been focused on self-assessment benchmarking surveys completed by over 19 operators from Central, South America and the Caribbean during May 2009, where through a questionnaire prepared by the WOP-LAC Secretariat, we have been capable of shaping potential ways of partnerships between operators, as well as having enough inputs from the operators to design a participatory and demand-driven methodology for facilitating these twining. This tool was successfully tested during the face-to-face matchmaking workshop held in Medellín, Colombia last June 2009. During this marketplace, facilitated by UN-HABITAT, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Water Association (IWA), and with the participation of 26 operators from the Latin American and Caribbean region, we had as main outcomes the identification of sixteen areas of interest or activities, structured in four core thematic areas; (1) Operation & Maintenance Management, (2) Commercial Management, (3) Projects Management, and (4) Administration & Finance, for later deciding each one of the 26 operators which role they wanted to play (as mentor, recipient or not directly interested) for each one of the sixteen areas of interest designated. At the same time, the operators were discussing about the different typologies of Water Operators’ Partnerships that better fit in their needs and/or expectations, arriving to different models according to variables as the number of areas of interest in common between mentor and recipient operators, the magnitude of the challenges to face in terms of performance improvements to be achieved, or the time that both parties are willing to dedicated to this mechanism of cooperation between operators. As a result, it has been developed a database for facilitating the decision-making regarding the next step in which we are nowadays working on: designing tailored cooperation agreements for water operators’ partnerships within the WOP-LAC platform.
Operators’ representatives filling out the matchmaking matrix according to their interests (demands/offers for partnerships) and consensus among operators for key areas of peer-to-peer support. Medellin (Colombia), June 2009. Photo ©: IWA