Pacific Water and Wastewater Association Capacity Building Program
Since May 2016, we have been supporting a major capacity development program for the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWWA)—the peak association bringing together 31 water utility organisations across 21 Pacific Island countries to collaborate, exchange knowledge and work collectively.
Additional support is being provided through a four-year (2019–2022) activity, aimed at supporting the PWWA vision of shaping a high performing and sustainable water and wastewater utilities sector in the Pacific for collective action.
The PWWA Funding Support Program has been enabling Australian Partner Hunter H2O to deliver valuable program management and facilitation services to PWWA. Hunter H2O has helped to develop the professional and technical capacity of Pacific Young Water Professionals (YWP), strengthened governance and accountability of Pacific utilities in decision making and policy development, and supported the PWWA Secretariat to drive its strategy forward and become financially sustainable.
The Pacific faces several challenges regarding its water resources. Almost all Pacific Island areas are at or close to sea level, which makes them very vulnerable to climate change-related increases in natural disaster frequency and rising sea levels. In addition, an estimated 80 percent of Pacific Islanders are living in rural areas, and rural water management is of particular importance for agriculture, health and natural disaster management. Rapid population growth and increasing urbanisation also exacerbate the challenges for water resource management.
The PWWA realises the importance of working together in sustainable and durable partnerships to address issues affecting the region’s water and wastewater sector. Sharing best practices on the effective and efficient management of water resources and infrastructure has been PWWA’s core focus in the last couple of years. AWP partners have significant experience in facilitating knowledge-sharing activities between countries in the Indo-Pacific and is applying this experience to the PWWA Funding Support activity.
Progress and Achievements
Working with Australian Partner Hunter H2O, the PWWA has transformed from a volunteer-based association to a professionally staffed body with a full-time secretariat team and established a five-year strategic plan that provides a roadmap to financial self-sustainability and ongoing capacity development for members.
In October 2018, Hunter H2O partnered with the International WaterCentre to deliver a ‘Learning and Development Needs Analysis’ for the PWWA to assess the human resources needs of member utilities. This analysis has formed the basis for training schemes that have enriched members’ skill base over a four-year period.
During 2020–21, Hunter H2O developed and implemented a new, online approach to course delivery after the cancellation of the 2020 Pacific Water Conference due to COVID-19, originally planned as the setting for a three-day YWP networking and learning event. Delivery of the virtual YWP program commenced in March 2021, with ten virtual sessions held across a four-month period. Phase one of the YWP course introduced participants to each other and covered some fundamental skills that could be applied throughout their careers, and phase two consisted of a series of five sessions related to collaboration and problem solving.
PWWA recognises the critical importance of maintaining water supplies in the Pacific as a strategy to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and in June 2020 sought additional support to implement the PacCRN and Enhanced Connectivity Program. The PacCRN is now providing effective and increased access to technical advice, knowledge and tools for PWWA members to assist in their preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19. In July 2020, a survey was distributed to all PWWA members to identify key COVID-19 issues and areas of support required. The survey also sought information regarding preferred social media platforms to establish the best methods for ongoing engagement. As a result of the survey, two website plugins were deployed in October 2020 to aid communications between the Secretariat and utility CEOs and enable better file management and sharing through the PWWA website.
Hunter H2O continues to support the staff of the PWWA Secretariat to improve its processes and systems and assist with program implementation.
ORIGIN OF DEMAND
Pacific Water and Wastewater Association