African WaterWorX experts share best practices during the African Water Association Congress & Utility training

05 March 2020

From 24 to 27 February, the 20th edition of the African Water Association Congress & Exhibition took place in Kampala, Uganda. The Congress provided a perfect opportunity for the African WaterWorX project coordinators to meet up and share knowledge and best practices within their WaterWorX projects.

Figure 1: Group picture of WaterWorX delegates at International Resource Center (IREC)

And so it happened that around 25 experts from water authorities Addis Ababa Water & Sewerage Authority (Ethiopia), Ghana Water Company (Ghana), Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) (Kenya), La Société Malienne de Gestion de l’Eau Potable (SOMAGEP) (Mali), National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) (Uganda), Morogoro Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (Tanzania) and Water & Sanitation Department of the City of Harare (Zimbabwe) gathered in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Within the WaterWorX programme, these water authorities have entered into long-lasting Water Operator Partnerships with Vitens-Evides International (VEI) and World Waternet from 2017 until 2030. The ultimate aim of the WaterWorX programme is to increase sustainable access to drinking water to 10 million people worldwide. 

Figure 2. Ephantus Mugo, Non-Revenue Water manager at Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company presenting. Discussion on the different technologies in Pre-Paid meters for different purposes. Session hosted by VEI & IHE-Delft

The African Water Association (AfWA) is a professional association of establishments, enterprises and utilities operating in the areas of drinking water, sanitation and environment in Africa. This year’s theme of the biannual AfWA Congress was “Breaking New Grounds to Accelerate Access to Water and Sanitation for All in Africa”. The Congress brought together a diverse range of practitioners, scientists, development partners and industry representatives, working across different areas of the water and sanitation sector across Africa and beyond. Some of the WaterWorX delegates also provided presentations on specific topics they specialize in. Ephantus Mugo, the Non-Revenue Water Manager of NCWSC , presented their best practices of pre-paid token dispensers which are successfully used in informal settlements in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. These dispensers enable the customer to access water 24/7 at a regulated price of $0.01 cents per 20 litre. Lucy Njambi, Technical Director at NCWSC, shared their expertise of water supply in pro-poor areas. Aboubacar Diallo from SOMAGEP presented their experiences with AquaRating, an international standard that enables water and sanitation operators to focus on the quality of the service they are providing. During the evening, Hadi Toure from SOMAGEP in Mali gave a presentation on Women Empowerment in the water and sanitation sector. SOMAGEP is doing particularly well in this area, and even received the Award for Best Network of Professional Women in Water and Sanitation from AfWA at the start of  the Congress. On the last day of the Congress, VEI hosted a session on Water Operator Partnerships which most of the delegates attended. This led to fruitful discussions and insights into the successful WOP approach of various utilities.

Figure 3: Training on Asset Management using GIS

When the Congress ended, the WaterWorX delegates were not yet saturated. They stayed for three more days to continue their knowledge exchange. NWSC in Uganda showcased their successfully implementation of Asset Management by using MapKit, a Geographic Information System (GIS) that identifies bottlenecks and risks in a water distribution network and enables the development of a maintenance plan. The implementation was supported by VEI within their WaterWorX project. NCWSC now also plans to implement this, and it has sparked the interest of the other water authorities present. 

Figure 4: Training on Customer Care by NWSC, Senior Manager Call Center CPA Joseph Kasule

The experts from Addis Ababa Water & Sewerage Authority shared their best practices of ‘field-level leadership’, which encourages bottom-up leadership and initiatives within water authorities. The WaterWorX delegates also visited the source of the White Nile, that merges with the Blue Nile in Sudan to create the Nile, the longest river in the world and at the same time the most important source of water in Sudan and Egypt.

Figure 5: Excursion to the source of the White Nile near the town of Jinja

All and all, the group found the week to be very enjoyable and valuable. Between their hard work they had a lot of fun, ties were forged, and the experts learned how to find each other more easily to share best practices related to the similar water challenges they face! 

Figure 6: The WaterWorX group on their way to the congress venue in Kampala