The Australian Water Partnership supported two webinars in July through its Australian Telewater Network, established to provide developing countries with increased remote access to Australian water resources advice, knowledge and tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinars were facilitated by the Australian Water Association (AWA) in collaboration with Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association (VWSA) and Indonesian Water Supply Association (PERPAMPSI). Together, they attracted over 550 participants who learnt about how Australian water and wastewater utilities have prepared and responded to COVID-19.
In the interactive webinars, participants were polled on the key challenges they have been facing. Presentations were made by 17 different water and wastewater utilities on major issues and lessons they have learned from the pandemic to date, with the goal of helping fellow participants to overcome these challenges.
The COVID-19 webinars build on the AWP’s Water Utility Improvement Program that connects Australian water utilities with water utilities in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. In the current climate, a key focus for most water organisations is the need for water operators to undertake their work in a safe and healthy environment. Important considerations include the implementation of effective return to work procedures and new protocols for safely undertaking meter reading and account billing activities.
The poll findings from the Vietnam webinar show that:
- 57% of Vietnam participants who responded in the poll reported experiencing impacts to supply chains and changes to spending and reporting requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic
- 29% of Vietnam participants who responded in the poll reported their ability to manage organisation risks during the COVID-19 pandemic as their most important challenge to prioritise.
- 63% of Vietnam participants who responded in the poll requested further support in supply chain risk management and business impact assessments during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll findings from the Indonesia webinar show that:
- 60% of Indonesian participants who responded in the poll reported experiencing impacts to customer concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 42% of Indonesian participants who responded in the poll reported maintenance supply and servicing public facilities as the most important challenge to address.
- 47% of Indonesian participants who responded in the poll requested further support in incident management guidance during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll results and common questions raised by webinar participants suggest that there is a demand for continued knowledge sharing to develop and implement business impact assessment and supply chain risk management, and to provide guidance on incident management and workplace health and safety for operators across water and wastewater utilities.
The full results of the polls, participant presentations and webinar videos are available on the AWA online hub, which also includes COVID-19 practice guidance notes and response tools and FAQs.
AWA, VWSA and PERPAMSI will use these outcomes and insights to identify, develop and refine future knowledge-sharing activities for water operators through Telewater that Australian Partners will be able to provide advice and assistance on.