Improving the effectiveness of the Pacific water utilities peak association

Pacific Islands (Photo by ADB)

The Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWWA) has a new capacity development program, resulting in its transformation from a volunteer-based organisation to a professional body with full-time employees and a five-year Strategic Plan.

The PWWA is the primary body bringing Pacific water utility organisations together to collaborate, exchange knowledge and work collectively.  The PWWA began as an organisation managed by member CEOs on a volunteer basis, with limited financial resources, which constrained its capacity to operate as a hub for its members.

Support from AWP has enabled PWWA to move towards a strong regional organisation that improves the performance and effectiveness of the member water utilities and their ability to deliver equitable and efficient water services.

AWP committed to providing direct support to PWWA for three years (planned to 2019), to enable the appointment of a full-time CEO, Lusia Sefo-Leau, as well as secretariat resources.

With its Australian Partners, AWP also supported the development of a vision and strategy for the future of PWWA. Hunter H2O assisted in the coordination of a two-day workshop held in Brisbane in November 2017 in which 28 member utilities came together to draft the PWWA Strategic Plan 2018-23. The workshop was facilitated by PWWA management and 80:20 Communications, enabling a lively discussion between members during which they defined the goals and benefits for the Pacific water utility sector collaborating through the PWWA.

The resulting Strategic Plan is now driven by the PWWA Board and CEO after AWP responded to a request from PWWA for enhanced governance capacity. The funding of a full-time Secretariat for three years enabled PWWA to propose and ratify an amended constitution with a refined governance structure, and the new Board received training support from AWP Partners on good governance.

With the future of Pacific water management in mind, AWP has also supported PWWA to implement a pilot human resources development program. The Young Water Professionals (YWP) training program is a professional development course tailored to promising, early career water sector employees to develop their competencies and leadership potential. The PWWA has already implemented one pilot YWP training program and has another planned for later this year. In 2017 in Apia, Samoa, Australian water sector experts provided training to 29 participants from member utilities from 22 Pacific nations. The second program will take place in August 2018 in Noumea, New Caledonia, at the time of the PWWA annual meeting.

Over the past two years, PWWA member utilities have established links with key Australian water sector specialists and, for the first time, the primary hub for the Pacific water utility sector has a roadmap for meeting the aspirations of its members.

By the conclusion of the Strategic Plan period in 2023, the PWWA aims to have enhanced financial stability, sufficient human resources and an established set of programs for providing professional development opportunities across the region.

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