Advancing Australian groundwater expertise through the Asian Development Bank

AWP’s Groundwater Specialist, Sanmugam Prathapar, will be finalising his secondment with ADB on 30 April, having played a key role in strengthening the partnership between the two organisations, and helping to share Australian expertise for over two years.

The rapid increase in lending for water infrastructure and limited water resources expertise at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) created an opportunity for collaboration between the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) and ADB. In 2017, ADB proposed to second Sanmugam Prathapar through the AWP from 15 January 2018 to 30 April 2020.

‘Prathapar’ has provided valuable water resources expertise over a 27-month period through ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, which tailors knowledge to lead development in the Asia-Pacific. As a Senior Water Resources Specialist, he has been providing knowledge support to policies, strategy, and frameworks; operational advice and support; project management; promotion and regional cooperation; and knowledge sharing.

Through his placement with ADB, Prathapar has played a key role in strengthening the partnership between ADB and AWP and helped to share Australian expertise.

“As a trusted advisor, I have introduced proven Australian water management principles and knowledge products such as the Australian Groundwater Modelling Guidelines, Well Interference and Drawdown Evaluation software to guide the development of ADB’s technical assistance and loan projects for sustainable management of water,” says Prathapar.

“I have also identified several modalities and opportunities by which the Australian expertise can be introduced to water sector development projects.”

Sanmugam Prathapar (right) representing ADB at the 2019 AWP Partners Workshop

During his secondment, many divisions of ADB enlisted Prathapar as a team member for projects in Afghanistan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Sri Lanka. These projects addressed groundwater as a resource for domestic and agricultural supplies and used advanced techniques like modelling and satellite monitoring to target investments and monitoring.

As a team member, Prathapar supported 10 technical assistance projects to prepare investment loans and six projects designed to build the capacity of developing member countries. In addition, he was a peer reviewer on two other projects, reviewed 49 ADB documents on behalf of his department, and contributed to 21 different knowledge sharing activities. He also had the opportunity to facilitate collaboration between ADB and two of AWP’s International Partners – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the International Water Management Institute.

Prathapar received three awards during his placement and his contributions are well recognised within ADB.

“Overall, I believe that Prathapar’s placement has strengthened water management and governance, enhanced equitability and environmental sustainability, and improved economic performance in developing member countries,” says AWP CEO Prof Nick Schofield.

Feature image: Aerial view of ADB headquarters (credit: ADB)
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