Egypt: Improving public sector performance - institutional strengthening of the Alexandria general water authority (#162)
The case illustrates how challenges are addressed and initiatives for improved performance are developed and agreed to by AWGA for implementation over a 5-year and 10-year period. It reveals the process undertaken by the Steering Committee and Assessment Teams to evaluate AWGA’s institutional capacity, including organization, management, planning, training and human resources, financial, and customer relations. The project is also assisting AWGA and Egyptian Government organizations in developing programs to resolve water source disputes (over both quantity and quality) and the interpretation of governorate laws and regulations that affect utility performance. Water sector planning at the governorate and national levels is being evaluated because the adequacy of the raw water supply affects AWGA’s performance as provider of safe drinking water.
After the first two years, results include completion of institutional assessments and identification of priority actions, creation of a management information system, implementation of a major formal training program for employees and the completion of a modern fully equipped training center, development of new personnel and pay regulations and schedules, evaluation of cost recovery strategies, and a strategic plan for the institution.
AWGA, has taken significant steps to assess their institutional capacity and identify priority actions and programs for improving public sector provision of drinking water in Alexandria. Utility personnel were able to work with the consultants to conduct assessments, and identify and reach consensus on needed improvements in utility efficiency. Benchmarks, performance indicators, and best practices were also identified, but reaching agreement by the assessment teams on some areas took longer.
Improvements in utility efficiency must be accompanied by government decisions to provide the legal and institutional framework for successful utility performance, including adequate water sector planning and improved conflict management among stakeholders to resolve water resource disputes.
In institutional building initiatives, effective communication is one of the key requirements for a successful outcome. The project approach includes several powerful communication devices. These include a team structure and implementation teams, quarterly coordinated meetings with external advisors working for AWGA, weekly meetings between the AWGA Chairperson and the ISC Project Director, extensive and active participation of AWGA personnel, monthly Steering Committee meetings, frequent meetings with USAID and briefings to stakeholders.
Meetings and workshops ensured clarity and produced confidence. Using power point presentations instead of writing lengthy reports has ensured understanding of plans and initiatives by simplifying and making visual all project implementation reporting.
All of these communications are necessary and have resulted in improved service delivery. AWGA senior managers and USAID officials have ample opportunities for regular input and active participation in the decision-making process. With these communication strategies there are no surprises in the outcomes, issues are resolved in a methodical manner, and obstacles are minimized.
Importance of case for IWRM
The case illustrates how improvements in public utility efficiency can be identified, agreed to, and implemented to increase access to sustainable water service for a large city’s population.
firstname.lastname@example.org, USAID Alexandria ISC Project