Capacity development of municipal and water utility staff members through peer-to-peer exchange
The objective of capacity development is to strengthen capacities of municipal and water utility company personnel in order to improve economic governance in water utilities for better services to citizens in partner municipalities. Through applying a peer-to-peer exchange, significant savings in the municipal budgets could be made as no external consultants needed to be engaged. At the same time it enabled the water utility companies to fully resume responsibility of service delivery and allowed staff members of the water utilities in rural communities to benefit from the experiences of their colleagues in other water utility companies.
Challenge or Opportunity Addressed and Short Background
The capacity development of municipal and water utility staff members is organized by facilitation of discussion, peer-to-peer exchange, coaching and monitoring of implemented projects. As an initial step, MDG-F DEG developed an Assessment Tool and carried out site visits to partner municipalities in order to perform capacity assessment of water utility companies within each municipality. Based on the analysis MDG-F DEG expert team elaborated individual findings on the existing capacities. These findings clearly indicated that financial and technical management, applied in some water utility companies could be considered and further developed. As a result, MDG-F DEG identified these companies as coaches to be used in peer-to-peer sessions as well as potential monitors during the implementation of priority infrastructure projects.
The capacity development program implemented by MDG-F DEG confirmed the importance of investment into the capacity development of water utility companies, in order to enable them to become capable and responsible for all actual implementation of priority investment measures resulting in significant savings in municipal budgets, due to the fact that external construction contractors were no longer necessary. Additional benefit of peer-to-peer exchange is the elimination of needs for engagement of external consultants and additional experts in the water supply sector. In both cases these measures increased financial means of water utility companies and enabled them to fully resume responsibility of service delivery to their beneficiaries. In addition, this was the first time that staff members of a water utility company in the rural community had the opportunity to learn and benefit from experience from other colleagues employed by successful water utility companies.
Strategy or Approach Chosen
In general, capacity development is implemented via two sets of sub-activities as follows:
1. Capacity development for financial sustainability:
- Analysis of current accounting and budgeting procedures in water utility companies, analysis of staffing numbers, knowledge and skills of water utilities, specifically with regard to their capacity for executing activities aimed at improving accounting and budgeting procedures, reporting and monitoring, auditing procedures as well as survey on office equipment available in water utilities (computers and accounting software);
- Elaboration of reports based on the above analysis which include: description of current accounting and budgeting procedures and their compliance with national legislation and international standards, recommendations for changes in current accounting and budgeting procedures, description of current reporting and monitoring procedures, recommendations for changes, description of current auditing procedures, recommendations for changes; Based on the report findings, action plans for each recommended and approved activity is elaborated, as well as relevant capacity development activities and equipment needed; Implementation of action plans along with trainings;
- In-depth analysis of status of collection fees including current water tariffs per category, rate of revenue collection per category, water tariffs structure, billing procedures, relations with consumers, modalities of calculation of water tariffs and compliance with realistic tariff rates, as well as practices of putting water tariffs into effect;
- Analytical results, including a set of recommended actions is presented to water utility companies and municipalities, as they are relevant for both of these;
- Facilitation of discussion and consensus-development exercise between water utilities, municipalities, and citizens regarding top priorities from the recommendations for status of collection fees;
- Capacity development for and support to water utilities and municipalities with regard to writing proposals for loans and grants needed to finance the priority infrastructure projects including English language classes;
- Comparative analysis of water utility company financial/ technical performance for partner municipalities via peer to peer visits;
2. Capacity development of technical management
- Analysis of current technical management in water utility companies, analysis of staffing numbers, knowledge and skills of technical staff, specifically with regard to their capacity for reporting and monitoring, system maintenance and management as well as survey on information technologies, machinery, devices and office equipment available in water utilities;
- Elaboration of reports based on the above analysis which will include: description of current reporting and monitoring procedures, as well as system maintenance and management procedures, recommendations for changes in current procedures;
- Based on the report findings, action plans for each recommended and approved activity will be elaborated, as well as relevant capacity development activities and machinery/equipment needed; Implementation of action plans along with trainings;
- Presentations and workshops for water utility companies’ management on water losses prevention, which will include the successful examples.
Results and Impacts
- Savings in municipal budgets
- Elimination of engagement of external consultants
- Inter-action between staff members of different water utility companies