Together with GIZ and ACWUA, WIN convened a session at the Global Water Operator’s Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) Conference in Barcelona to discuss how water and wastewater utilities can turn integrity risks into business opportunities.
Utility representatives from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and Kenya shared their experiences on assessing and managing integrity risks during the first part of the session. The country and organisational contexts of the utilities represented a variety from national utilities like the Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater, which provides water to almost 90 million people and has 130,000 employees, to local government utilities like the Kenyan Kericho Water and Sanitation Company Ltd. (KEWASCO), which serves about 116,000 people and has around 130 employees. While they encountered specific challenges and opportunities, some shared patterns emerged from the experiences: Many of the utilities prioritized processes of human resource management, procurement, billing, or customer relations for taking risk management measures. Besides support from the top management, open communication and trust among the involved staff came out as some common success factors for the process.
Introducing participants to some the available tools for strengthening integrity management in water utilities, the GIZ project ACWUA WANT presented the water TAP approach used in the MENA region, which will soon be published in a practitioner’s manual jointly with ACWUA and WIN. Meanwhile, WIN presented the Integrity Management Toolbox for utilities that was jointly developed and piloted with GIZ and cewas in Kenya.
In the session’s closing panel, CEOs and senior management from the utilities shared their motivations and expectations related to integrity. Given that all participating utilities are government owned, the linkages to broader political processes was an important point of discussion. Mr. Ahmed Benaddou, advisor to the Moroccan minister in charge of water and representative of the national utility ONEE, identified three success factor for integrity change in utilities: the social and political engagement, the good governance environment and leadership. Moreover, improving public reputation and customer relations emerged as one important rationale for managers to engage in integrity management. In this regard, Eng. Festus Ng’eno from KEWASCO noted that the SMS-based customer communication and complaints management system they introduced as part of the integrity process greatly assisted KEWASCO to improve regulatory compliance on complaints management.
The session’s insights were well reflected in the closing session of the GWOPA conference. In the panel discussion Mamadou Dia, president of Aquafed, highlighted that improving transparency, accountability, and participation (TAP) in service delivery are key for both public and private water service providers to successfully engage with consumers and to achieve sustainable financing. Another point of lively discussion was the relationship between utilities and local governments, between water and politics. David Boys from Public Service International called for “new politics of water” that will have to push interest padding and corruption out of decision-making in the water sector.
GWOPA itself has since early on been committed to integrity within the water operators’ partnerships, by establishing a Code of Conduct and in 2009 an integrity sub-committee that supports the GWOPA secretariat and partners in ensuring that integrity principles are upheld in practice.
Presentations from the integrity session:
- Egypt, HCWW (Mohamed Moawad)
- Morocco, ONEE (Mostafa Ettourki)
- Tunisia, SONEDE (Atika Souissi)
- Jordan, Miyahuna (Duha Altarawneh)
- Jordan, Aqaba Water (Montasser)
- Kenya, Kericho (Janet Irongi)
Approaches for strengthening integrity in utilities:
- Concept of « Water TAP » (Mostafa BIAD & Thomas Petermann, GIZ ACWUA WANT)
- The Integrity Management Toolbox (Lotte Feuerstein, WIN)
- Mr Mohamad Moawad: Head of Human Resources of HCWW, Egypt
- Mr Mohamed Dahech: CEO of SONEDE, Tunisia
- Mr Ahmed Benaddou: Adviser to the Minister of Water, Morocco
- Ms Duha Altarawneh: Director of Audit Department, Miyahuna, Jordan
- Mr Festus Ng’eno, Managing Director of KEWSCO, Kenya
Moderation: Dr. Thomas Petermann, GIZ