GWOPA is an alliance of partners working towards the common goal of making Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) happen more often and with greater impact.

The GWOPA Secretariat, hosted by UN-Habitat, is driven by an international Steering Committee and supported by a global network of partners and members. GWOPA counts amongst its supporters utility associations on all continents representing thousands of water utilities, regional development banks, international financial institutions, labour unions, civil society organizations, development partners, and learning institutes.  The office of the Secretariat moved to Barcelona, Spain in April 2013.

GWOPA’s Mission

GWOPA’s direct goal is to promote and enable impactful WOPs. It does this by creating awareness about WOPs, producing and sharing knowledge and tools, and rallying the funds and political backing to enable effective WOPs practice.

GWOPA is ultimately contributing to the Millennium Develop Goals of halving the proportion of the world’s population that remains unserved by adequate water and sanitation services. WOPs make the greatest contribution through capacity enhancement, while helping to catalyze the change required to increase access to the poor.

GWOPA’s Approach
From the beginning, GWOPA has worked to grow its partner network and gain from the diverse strengths of partners in the implementation of all activities. Key partners include international agencies, regional development banks and funding agencies, utility associations, and a wide range of stakeholders from the water supply and sanitation sector worldwide.

GWOPA Foundation Meeting in Nairobi, Janary 2009

Why WOPs?
The Right Fit
The beauty of Water Operators’ Partnerships is that each partnership is tailor-made to meet the specific needs of its partners. The issues to tackle, the level of commitment, and the duration of exchange are up to the partners to decide. In this way, Water Operators’ Partnerships are truly demand-driven.

Value for Money
Capacity Building is one of the most cost effective alternatives for development investments. Demanddriven partnerships are among the most effective ways of building capacity. Water Operators’ Partnerships are effective and no-nonsense ways of building know - how where it is needed.

Inspirational Support
For utilities caught in a trap of low revenues, disinvestment and infrastructural decline, reversing the cycle can seem overwhelming. Witnessing, first hand, surmounted challenges can provide the catalyst for real change. Not only spreading knowledge, Water Operators’ Partnerships help spread the inspiration to do things differently. As partners in a process of change, utilities can support one another to persist through the obstacles they face along the way.

Public and Pro-Poor
With the vast majority of the world’s water operators in public hands nowadays, efforts to extend access must focus on enhancing the capacity of public utilities. While decades of public-private partnerships have brought about some performance improvements, they have had little impact in increasing service coverage to the poor. The emergence of a new wave of efficient public operators that have also managed to extend services, has brought about a renewed focus on the public sector as the driver of change. Distinguishing itself from past exchange mechanisms, Water Operators’ Partnerships focus clearly on support between operators on a not-for-profit basis, rooted in a culture of solidarity where universal access to water and sanitation is the ultimate goal.

Anchoring Capacity
Water Operators’ Partnerships aim to develop the resident human resource capacity within a utility. While investors and experts may come and go, building, rather than delegating, capacity is seen as essential for sustainable and responsive utilities. In this light, Water Operators’ Partnerships also highlight the key role that workers, as well as managers, play in the delivery of safe and accessible water and sanitation services.

Water Operators’ Partnerships as a Catalyst for Reform
While utilities may be the single most important actors in the effort to improve services to the Poor, they cannot do it alone. Improving performance and service to the Poor also requires political commitment, financial support, and a sound institutional framework. Water Operators’ Partnerships may not be a panacea, but the change they bring about can help to catalyse further improvements and build the momentum for upstream reforms.

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