Helping to build mutual trust
Auditing training for Water Safety Plan in Egypt
The implementation of Water Safety Planning is developing rapidly in Egypt. In this context, the establishment of effective auditing is of central importance. KWR is sharing its expertise and training the country’s Ministry of Health and Water Regulatory Agency in auditing techniques. The essence is to strengthen mutual trust between the government and the drinking water companies.
In 2004, the Egyptian Ministry of Health set up the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) as the umbrella organisation for the hundreds of drinking water companies throughout the country. The goal was to improve the quality of the drinking water provision. The ministry imposed a legal obligation on the HCWW to establish Water Safety Plans for all drinking water systems. The Egyptian Water Regulatory Agency (EWRA) and the Ministry of Health are tasked with testing the plans’ quality, but have no experience in the area. In 2014, in a commission from VNG International – the international cooperation agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities – KWR researcher Patrick Smeetsgave an auditing training in Egypt. He advised and supported the authorities in the development of auditing techniques, such as interviews, data analysis and site visits.
Dealing with quality assessments
“Egypt is looking hard for the right division of roles between the ministries, regulatory agencies and drinking water companies,” says Smeets. “That’s something I frequently observed during many on-site meetings. An audit involves more than an assessment on paper. You have to actually talk to the people to learn about how they deal with the risks to the provision of drinking water. As an auditor, you need to be able to find out who does what. In Egypt there are a large number of stakeholders involved in supplying drinking water. That’s the reason we set up a protocol which describes all the roles and responsibilities in the entire auditing process.”
“An audit involves more than an assessment on paper.”
A complicating factor in setting up Water Safety Planning in Egypt is the drinking water sector’s historical background. “The 3 parties involved are not used to collaborating,” says Smeets. “For instance, each collects its own water samples. During the training I therefore tried to shed light on their interdependence and on the importance of transparency. Water Safety Planning is not simply a matter of having everything work on paper, but of having all the elements of the entire water cycle work together in practice.”
Proactive approach to risk
As a result of the training, says Smeets, they’re looking into how the processes surrounding the Egyptian water provision could be made simpler and more efficient. “It’s possible that the role of the regulatory agency will be cut out. I’m also getting signals indicating that the water companies are changing their approach to their water production: they’re taking a proactive risk perspective instead of one based only on compliance of water samples. To me, this is a positive development.”
Smeets also draws on his Dutch and Egyptian experience with Water Safety Plans in KWR’s collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Since 2014, he has been participating in work to develop WHO guidelines for the auditing of Water Safety Plans.
© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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Senior scientific researcher
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