Strategic Partnership Signed to Advance Water Utilities in the Middle East and Africa

For Immediate Release

Friday, March 20, 2009
USAID Press Office

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Water Association (IWA) signed an agreement today at the Fifth World Water Forum to work together to increase access to clean drinking water and sanitation throughout the Middle East and Africa by strengthening water utilities and their regional associations. This partnership focuses specifically on access to clean drinking water and sanitation for the urban poor, water safety and quality management, leadership gaps and climate change.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are facing a water crisis. In this arid region, supplies of renewable water are limited while demand is rapidly rising due to population growth, agricultural use, and increasing industrialization and urbanization. Daily per capita water consumption is low throughout the region, and the cost of supplying water continues to increase. In response, pressures on water operators to improve their efficiencies and capacities are growing.

By synchronizing program planning and leveraging financial and non-financial resources, USAID and IWA will work to strengthen water utilities and their regional associations, such as the Arab Countries Water Utility Association (ACWUA) and African Water Association (AfWA).

USAID and IWA will address this common objective by:

  • Supporting and strengthening regional water utility associations by providing information and expertise on business planning and programs and services;
  • Brokering and facilitating global or regional Water Operator Partnerships, e.g. partnerships between mentor and recipient water operators;
  • Working together to create a regional Future Water Leaders program; and
  • Collaborating on and disseminating pertinent information such as reports, analyses, and resources.

To launch this strategic partnership, IWA and USAID are working closely with ACWUA to build and strengthen ACWUA's role and impact for its utility members. IWA can provide resources and experts to build knowledge and capacity where needed within the association and individual utilities. USAID is providing strategic and expert resources to assist ACWUA in expanding its business plan for sustainability, supporting its knowledge management and communications strategy as well as facilitating the technical working groups on poverty orientation and utility management.

USAID and IWA will promote leadership strengthening for mid-level water and wastewater management professionals to build up the water and sanitation sector. USAID is promoting Middle East leadership in the sector by bringing twenty-five future leaders from nine Middle Eastern countries together to discuss issues that they will face as leaders in ten years time. IWA has a Young Professionals group and mentorship program that offers support and guidance. Both parties will collaborate on curriculum design and creating linkages among young professionals across countries and regions, as well as connections to senior mentors in order to build leadership capacity and networks in support of Future Water Leader career development.