Australia-Indonesia Water Utility Improvement Program

Supported by the AWP, the Australia-Indonesia Water Utility Improvement Program (WUIP) is helping to improve water quality in Indonesia while enhancing the reliability, operational efficiency and financial sustainability of drinking water or wastewater management companies—known as Perusahaan Daerah Air Minum (PDAMs).

In Indonesia, many ageing water supply systems are struggling to cope with the rapid increase in demand due to population growth and development. Currently, 371 Indonesian regional PDAMs serve 11 million customers, which is equivalent to approximately 32 percent of the urban population. The expansion of water and wastewater management facilities in Indonesia is placing new requirements on skills for business planning, finance and contract management, and demands for technical skills essential for the operation and maintenance of new and existing facilities.

Led by the Australian Water Association (AWA), the WUIP was designed to assist with knowledge-sharing and developing the capacity of individuals and organisations to respond to critical water and wastewater needs. The program, which commenced in November 2018, connected three Indonesian regional drinking water or wastewater management companies with three Australian water utilities: Yarra Valley Water has been matched with PDAM Kabupaten Gianyar, South Gippsland Water with PD PAL Jaya, and Unitywater with PDAM Surabaya.

One of the first steps in the Program was the development of unique Action Plans for each of the pairs—or ‘twins’—to guide activity implementation through to completion. There were many notable achievements throughout the Program: PDAM Surabaya completed a full hazard analysis of one of their critical water treatment plants in East Java and achieved full certification at international asset management standard; PDAM Gianyar successfully reduced non-revenue water in priority zones and has maintained levels below 40 percent; and PD PAL Jaya successfully installed a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in their Manggarai Sewer Pump Station with it now operating autonomously.

Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) was also a key focus for the WUIP, with all partners embedding GEDSI principles into their Action Plans. All three Indonesian partners also successfully delivered initiatives to sustain operations and performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, including online meter reading, work-from-home policies, and contact tracing systems for staff, contractors and customers.

The Peak Water Association of Indonesia (PERPAMSI)—who led the WUIP in-country in partnership with the Government of Indonesia—also adopted the use of online platforms to enhance regular communication and technical knowledge sharing with PDAM members, with weekly webinars reaching up to 400 water operators.

The successful WUIP partnerships allowed people on both sides to increase their skills and knowledge, and assisted Indonesia in improving its water infrastructure and services to support its growing population.

Feature image: Indonesian water utility workers (women and men) pose in front of wastewater pipes (credit: Australian Water Association)
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